May They Rest in Revolt (Qu’ils reposent en révolte)
Sylvain George, 2011, 153 min.
Film screening followed by discussion with director Sylvain George and Jane Gaines
Genre: Documentary essay. French production. Filmed in France. Languages: French, English, Arabic, Farsi, Erythrean, with English subtitles.
New York City Premiere
May They Rest in Revolt shows the life of the migrants in Calais, filmed from July 2007 to January 2010. Calais is a northern port in France where migrants gather and wait before trying to embark to England. Over the years, they have progressively built an informal camp, which was brutally destroyed by the French police in 2016. George’s film is a radical, disturbing but also poetical reflection on how European policies treat migrants as criminals and reduce them to vulnerable bodies. The film combines rough black and white textures, a peculiar attention to time and materiality, non-linear editing, on one hand, and on the other, a journalistic talent for putting his camera in the heat of the moment, and camerawork sometimes similar to wartime coverage. George is an important name in French independent, experimental French cinema: he has dedicated numerous shorts, essays and feature-length documentaries to European social justice movements and protests against the State. While May They Rest in Revolt has won awards at festivals in France, Argentina, Spain, and Italy and has been shown on the West Coast in the U.S., the film has not yet been presented in New York.
“It is first of all their way of being there that the camera (held by Sylvain George) serves to capture by showing that the condition and the manners of these migrants are not just those of a bare life, disarmed by the misery they feel and the violence of exile. Struggling for survival is not simply a condition, it is also an art.” (Jacques Rancière)