“If I could chop off my hand and trade it for yours, I would.” The phrase could very well resume this documentary by Sylvain George. For three years, the director followed the journey of illegal immigrants in Calais, a place in northern France from where they cross the English Channel to Britain. Submerging the spectator right among a group of “undocumented people”, Qu’ils reposent en révolte awakes deeps emotions (and commotions) with a resource as simple as showing how the film’s protagonists eat, sleep, and move around –which basically sums up the non-life of these clandestine people. In a key scene, George shows a group of men gathered around a fire, passing each other a red hot screw they press against all of their fingers. This mutilation is supposed to erase their fingerprints so they can’t be booked by the police, but the same violent gesture also suggests the terrible moral price illegal aliens have to pay in order to save their lives: nothing less than their identity. –BAFICI
Sylvain George (1968, Lyon, France) is a French poet and filmmaker. After studying Philosophy, he has made short and feature-length documentaries in which immigration plays an important role. He has had collaborations with artists who are engaged in their art and politics such as Archie Shepp, William Parker, Valérie Dréville, Okkyung Lee, John Edwards, John Butcher and many more. His films are screened in militant networks, underground place as well as in national and international films festivals. Several of his films have won prizes; “May they rest in revolt (Figures of wars I)” being one of his winning titles. Also, George teaches at the Institut de Sciences Politiques de Paris (IEP) and gives masterclass and workshops all over the world.
A bleak portrait of desperate clandestine immigrants who are willing to cut and burn themselves in order to get rid of their fingerprints, "May They Rest in Revolt" provides an unsettling look at the challenges which countries like France or Britain have to deal with in the 21st century and highlights that expatriates are often being mistreated by overstrained officials.
In our annual poll, we pair our favorite new films of 2011 with older films seen in the same year to create fantastic double features.