La Haine (1995), dir. Mathieu Kassovitz
Written by Robin McKinson
When it comes to police brutality, violence and social inequality, history, it seems, repeats itself constantly. May it be protests that erupted worldwide over the death of George Floyd, to Makome M’Bowole’s officially named ‘accidental death’ in police custody in Paris that inspired Mathieu Kassovitz’s second and award-winning feature film, ‘La Haine’- the masterpiece not enough people have seen.
‘La Haine’ or ‘Hate’ in English is a French drama centred around three friends; Said, Hubert and Vinz set in Paris’ banlieues over 24 hours – the day after a violent riot following the assault of their friend Abdel by the police. Vinz gets hold of a lost gun and filled with ‘hate,’ plans to use it to avenge Abdel if he dies.
Before ‘La Haine,’ unrest in Paris’ banlieues was common – this area of the city, segregated from inner Paris, was constantly demonized in the media. Kassovitz smartly addresses the social issues and stigma surrounding this community without falling into stereotypes or forgetting about the art of cinema. A constant ticking clock with Hubert’s story of a man in freefall saying, ‘so far, so good…’ is a reoccurring motif – a metaphor suggesting the banlieue is a bomb, in freefall, just waiting for the landing, the injustice to make it blow.
The final scene of ‘La Haine’ is the perfect finale for this film, not predictable but predestined as the 24 hours concludes. After Vinz gives Hubert his gun to get rid of after concluding that his seeking revenge will not solve anything, Vinz is accidentally shot by a police officer after being taunted with his gun. This begins a standoff between Hubert and this police officer pointing their guns at each other. A non-diegetic gunshot sound follows with a bright light – implying a shot has gone off. The off-camera shooting brilliantly illustrates that it did not matter who shot who. If the police officer shot Hubert, then people from the projects would riot once again with retaliation from the police. Similarly, if Hubert killed the officer, the police would target their anger towards the people in the projects, which would create more people with the revengeful ideals of Vinz.
The zoom into Said’s closed eyes before the gunshot is a parallel to the first shot of the film, inferring the events have come full circle and it is easier for him to shut his eyes to the suffering within his community and block it all out. Said cannot see a different future, just an endless cycle of street life and violence – it feels inevitable it all ends this way. The film does not end with a resolution, all it took was one person’s actions to bring everything right back to the beginning.
‘La Haine’ is a timeless piece of cinema that still holds weight and remains as relevant as ever – not just in Paris but worldwide. It seems that 27 years after the film’s release we are still saying ‘so far, so good…’ and ‘La Haine’ continues to ask: when will society land from our vicious descent?
Moving Bodies, Moving Images at the Whitechapel Gallery,
Written by Annissia Terekhina
The White Chapel Gallery’s exhibition, “Moving Bodies, Moving Images”, presents a collection of short films depicting the movement of bodies, set in different environments and aesthetics. The works displayed centre around bodies in performance while exploring topics ranging from gender politics and identities, tenacity, to personal healing. Although each moving picture of the exhibition successfully portrayed unique motion flow associated with freedom of body movement in a different way, the particular moving picture that stroke my attention was Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars by Eglė Budvytytė. The reason for which were the feelings and emotions of unease that it evoked in me. The moving picture was set in various settings of a nature environment. The choice of nature scenery highlighted the importance of the body’s connection with the outside world. The locations included pine forests and sand dunes. For instance, the scenes filmed in the forest field featured branches’movements around the actors from the wind; this particularly made me feel calm and at ease, due to the natural and smooth rhythm of the branches’ swaying. Such selection of locations showed how the choice of setting adds to the ambiance. Also, nature’s scenery colors present in the picture, specifically the palette of green tones, served as a useful visual effect to create a soothing mood. The actors’ movements were slow and free; the scenes in the field displayed simple marching accompanied by gentle hand movements, which seemed to be the exploration of the air space surrounding the body. The composition presented expressionist movement and portrayed the body and its connection with the space surrounding it, depicting an experiment with human consciousness. The mannerism in the forest scenes seemed almost surreal as the bodies illustrated slow physicalcontact between one another, almost an attempt of morphing into one. This scene particularly induced thoughts on the connections humans have between each other, and how those are able to be developed even further, physically. In the last scenes of the film, the actors’ movements on the beach seemed to follow a particular pattern of a walk on hands and feet through a bridge, accompanied by a fall, after which the pattern repeated itself. This loop could be related to a metaphor revealing the vicious circle of life and human’s perseverance after failure. The overall choreography was bizarre and original; the peculiar set of movements made it seem as though the bodies were in the process of moral and physical decomposition or mutation into another state beyond human embodiment. The actors’ numb facial expressions emphasized the feeling of disassociation present within the film. Also, the skin-like texture of their costumes added to the theme of symbiosis and to the feeling of unease. Particularly, I was surprised by the non-censure of the scene with an umbilocal cord linking the actor with a residue piece, placenta like.
The contemporary relevance of the picture appears to be the importance of mind connection with the body, and the body’s connection with nature, in order for a superior level of consciousness to be reached and maintained.
London Film Festival 2022
Written by Jasmine Curry
In recent years going to the cinema has been something that is declining in popularity, with the emergence of streaming services the cinema is no longer the first choice when it comes to film consumption. However, I think that the London Film Festival is a key aspect when it comes to the re-emergence of cinema. Attending the festival created the cinematic feel that I had craved for so long. The screening theatre itself is a spectacle and encourages the escapism we desire from cinema, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in the experience. Being in the theatre harnesses the idea of consuming film as more than a media form but an art form. If you are fortunate enough to view a film which receives a standing ovation, the sense of appreciation for the art is something that feels to be lost, but reminds us that cinema is still alive and breathing. The film festival is produced by the BFI and was initially created due to the lack of film festivals in London. Since its creation, the purpose of the festival has stayed true, with London now being home to multiple festivals such as Raindance. It is held annually at the BFI Southbank in London and usually takes place in October. Being one of the last festivals in the film festival circuit some may wonder whether LFF still holds the same significance that it once did, and I believe it does.
While it may not be the most significant festival to create film buzz as most films being shown have already received critical acclaim, to me, LFF is about opening the film world to everyone. Tickets for the London Film Festival can be purchased through the BFI website for all members of the public, these tickets can provide you access to screenings and talks from the actors and directors. This is something I love about LFF as the inclusivity elevates the screening experience. You can get a good idea of how the film translates on screen and who it is for. During my time at the festival, I watched “Triangle Of Sadness” directed by Ruben Östlund. Seeing this film at the festival made my viewing experience so much more enjoyable as being in the theatre felt like a community, here we all are watching these events unfold on screen laughing together, reacting to the same plot twists and enjoying ourselves. This is something that makes the film festival so appealing to me and so many others, the sense of exclusivity as you are seeing something that is yet to release but the event itself is inclusive through the accessible ticket sales.
If you’re in London and you are a film fan or even an art fan, coming to the London Film Festival is essential and something that I would recommend everyone to experience. If you loved film and cinema before you are going to fall in love all over again as it is an experience like no other for cinema lovers from all walks of life.