Paris May 1968

Revolution in/by the Cinema

Source: Cahiers du Cinéma, August 1968;
Translated: for by Mitchell Abidor 2008.

In unison with all that was changing at the time, what the Estates General decisively changed in May-June 1968 for the cinema was, on the one hand, the role of this cinema in society, and on the other hand the role and responsibility of those who conceive and make films in that other society that is the French cinema. A dual question was posed with force; a struggle on two fronts that certain rare individuals had until then carried out as skirmishers become the struggle of the majority: the problems of the functioning of the cinema, of its consumption, of what alienates it as well as that which it alienates, of what will liberate it as well as what it will liberate. All of this no longer agitates the consciousness of a few cineastes, sociologists and critics. They are felt in their urgency by all those who no longer want the cinema – or themselves within the cinema – to be accomplices either of the power of money or of its interest in “diverting” those they exploit. If making the revolution in the cinema necessarily implies making it everywhere else beforehand or at the same time; if the projects and plans of Suresnes have but little chance of changing the cinema in an unchanged society, the fact remains that starting with the cinema can lead to changing much more. At the same time that projects and new structures were born, teams outside of any existing structure made films on strikes and the students that will have a value not only as “documents,” but can contribute to the gaining of consciousness, which is and will be a ferment for agitation that is not only “cultural,” supplementary. At the same time there were constituted, again outside the current system, new circuits for the distribution of films, bringing in not only a new public, but mobilizing it for a reception of the cinema that is different from the usual one. Thus, at the Estates General a bit of practice compensated for the plethora of theories. In this way the French cinema began to become battle-hardened.