Sog.: da un’idea di Michel Andrieu. Immagini: Renan Pollès, Jean-Pierre Thorn, Jean-Denis Bonan, Jean-Noël Delamarre. M.: Maureen Mazurek. Mus.: René-Marc Bini. Prod.: Matthieu De Laborde, Iskra DCP. D.: 81’. Bn.
I was twenty-eight years old, an alumnus of Paris’ Institut Cinématographique (IDHEC). I had been Robert Bresson’s assistant director on two films (Au hazard Balthazar, Mouchette). I had also shot my first medium-length film, Trotsky, starring Patrice Chéreau […]. In this repressive context, together with other filmmakers, I helped set up an organization called l’ARC (Atelier de Recherche Cinématographique), out of which came forth a series of political and revolutionary films. In those days l’ARC was a politically committed cooperative, heavily engaged in the campaign against the war in Vietnam. The cadres all came from anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist and anti-Stalinist backgrounds. Some were situationists or anarchists. I was the only person connected with the Jeunesse communiste révolutionnaire. Our means were initially limited: a Coutant camera, a Nagra plus a few wind-up cameras, a Pailland Bolex, a Pathé Webo and a Uher sound-recorder. When the police surrounded the Sorbonne, we were right there, in the Latin Quarter, with our gear. No one was expecting such revolutionary events to blow up. We lived through them in a daydream, even as our cameras were rolling […]. We all felt we were experiencing our very own October revolution!
May 1968 was a month of oratory, a month of egalitarian decision-making and direct democracy in every group and committee. It was like a fugue, a vibrant and living heightening of spirits, a break with the past, heady with the magic of saying no, the joy of sharing and caring for others and for each other. A people was rising and saying no. At last, a people was impacting on its own history.
For the fiftieth anniversary of May 1968, we felt that the time had come to make a film to show what it was like to have experienced these events as filmmakers, and not just produce ex-post-facto work based on hindsight commentary and archival material. Our idea was not to generate analysis, not to teach the history but to offer a film distilled from all the films shot within our collective, as well as work made by other politically committed filmmakers who were able to donate images and sound. Personally, I was keen from the start that this should come without any form of comment on voiceover; and gradually, as the editing process proceeded, this radical approach did come to make sense, as if sequences shot fifty years ago might only reject alien material grafted from another era. Indeed, we had to erase the ideological commentary of the time in order to make the material work for today’s audiences, retaining only factually objective information.