A rebellion can take different forms. It can be collective but also individual, global or local, loud or silent, and it can happen either in the social and political realm, or in the poetic one. Either way, it is a gesture against the norm, against power, and against that which is generally accepted. The history of art and the history of rebellion are strangely connected - non-fiction cinema is, in many ways, an interesting field for that reflection.
How does that transform the practice of filmmaking?
And by late July, as news of the fall of the Bastille spread, demand fell sharply for images of the volcano as the crowning element of a serene landscape. Now everyone craved an image of Vesuvius erupting. Indeed, for a while hardly anyone painted the volcano another way.
– Susan Sontag, The Volcano Lover
The promise of revolution in We Have Boots and Your Mother’s Comfort comes from both the collective and from individual beings, culminating in the collective depicted as an anonymous and unstoppable force in The Undertaker, Yael Bartana’s masterful film on the subject of disarmament. Rebellion is as an act of resistance and protection in Welcome to Chechnya, The Art of Living in Danger, Blow It To Bits, Camagroga and Antonio & Piti, where film is a way of deciphering the world but also an agent of change. From the LGBTQI+ struggle to flee Chechnya to traditional agriculture passed on from one generation to another in Spain; from workers’ fights in France to the struggle against gender violence in Iran; or to the personal history of an indigenous family.
A Rebellion can also be the refusal to forget, as in Corporate Accountability – the history of the collaboration between the Argentinian dictatorship and the country’s big corporations; or We’re Still Here—the struggle of the Grenfell Tower victims—or by the inhabitants of West Ham and other areas endangered by the alliance between financial and political powers. One of the threads in this Rebellions programme is the theme of hospitality, reflected in a very specific way in The Filmmaker’s House. How can we create a film about hospitality, without leaving the house? How can hospitality be taken as a political category that speaks to our present and our future? That is also, in another way, the question asked in Constructions and in The Unknown – where the ultimate question “How do I make a friend?” becomes a rebellious and uncomfortable intervention in reality.
Or in Our Land, Our Altar, where community and home become the subject of a portrait of the end of a time and of a way of life - the mourning of the working class and the struggle against gentrification and speculation.
This year we present a focus within Rebellions on Burkina Faso filmmaker Simplice Herman Ganou, with two films as part of the online programme: Bakoroman and The Koro Of Bakoro: The Survivors Of Faso. Ganou’s cinema is one of companionship, care and beauty. Bakoroman (neither child nor adult) are the homeless children in Ouagadougou, who leave their parents, walk, look for ways to go through the days. Ganou’s debut film is a beautiful portrait and homage to these youngsters, one of whom he meets again for his second feature. His latest film, The Unknown will be shown in Sheffield and online, later in the year.