PARIS — The mass shooting that claimed the lives of 12 people at satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo has spurred a flurry of reactions from the country’s film community.
As part of a peaceful demonstration held in Paris, the ARP, France’s producers, directors and writers guild, gathered a large delegation of prominent industry figures, including Wild Bunch co-founder Vincent Maraval, Le Pacte’s president Jean Labadie and directors Costa Gavras and Radu Mihaileanu.
“It is the role of cinema to enable the light to shine through terror. We will continue (to fight for the freedom of expression) through films with more passion than ever. When people tried to prevent us from making (Abel Ferarra’s ‘Welcome to New York’), it gave us a tremendous energy, which I want to put into every project,” said Maraval, whose company Wild Bunch is known for tackling controversial projects, such as “Kandahar,” “Four Lions,” “Fahrenheit 9/11,” “The Look of Silence” and “Blue Is the Warmest Color,” as well as Olivier Stone’s upcoming Edward Snowden movie.
Sylvie Pialat, founder of Les Films du Worso and producer of Abderrahmane Sissako’s “Timbuktu,” said she didn’t fear a backlash effect on French moviemaking. “Timbuktu,” Mauritania’s foreign-language Oscar entry that’s just been shortlisted, depicts the struggle of Malian people who fought the occupation of Islamic fundamentalists.
“The commercial success of a film like ‘Timbuktu’ in France underscores the strong desire that people here have of learning about these topics, see how others are fighting every day for their freedom, because in a way it helps them gain some perspective on current events,” said Pialat, who is currently developing a project about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin that will be directed by Amos Gitai. “What happened today at Charlie Hebdo resonates deeply because it shows that tragedies can also happen here, on our soil,” added Pialat.
“We lost today some of the world’s most talented cartoonists,” said director Jean–Paul Salome, who also serves as president of French film promotion org Unifrance.
Salome said he didn’t think the attack will lead to self-censorship in Gaul. He pointed out that “France doesn’t have a long-entrenched tradition of making politically-engaged movies reflecting on contemporary events like the ones undertaken by U.S. directors and producers.”
If anything, the mass shooting will encourage more and more creatives to shed light on issues surrounding radical Islamists or threats to freedoms in different parts of the world, said Joel Thibout, managing partner at Backup Media, one of France’s top film financiers, which is involved in Alvaro Longoria’s documentary “The Korean Dream,” about North Korean society and its relationship with the U.S..