Programmed by Naomie Décarie-Daigneault
Mai '68. Paris, in the streets of the Quartier Latin, from Sorbonne to the Odéon. The symbols of the authority are contested by the millions of students and strikers. American filmmaker and photographer William Klein records day by day assemblies, impromptu debates, protests, barricades, street fights, palavers, utopia in the making, resignations. Filmed in black and white, camera in hand, this film is a wonderful document of one of the most vigorous moments of political protest in 20th century France.
A word from Tënk
One of the loveliest original film titles of all time: Grands soirs et petits matins (“Great evenings and early mornings”). The master William Klein wanders through the Paris of May ’68, a Paris in disarray, where spring seems to have gone to the heads of those gathered. Bystanders cluster together, picking on each other. People open their mouths and appear to startle themselves, as though intoxicated by their own audacity in naming what’s not working, what is causing problems, what must be reinvented. Klein films a Paris in full bloom, where students, workers and farmers get together and dream of revolution. Women are there, yes, but usually end up getting cut off. We’ll hear about their dreams later…
At the Théâtre de l’Odéon, where people met to have spirited debates, a waiter tearfully concludes his speech. To the revolutionary disdain of the students, he opposes the reality of the workers. What may well have been the most revolutionary aspect of that May was the freedom of speech and these discussions between members of different classes. But alas, after those evenings that echoed with a healthy sense of collective rage came the early morning hours, repression and a lethal “return to normalcy,” concluding with the massive re-election of de-Gaulle-aligned politicians in June of 1968.
Tënk’s Artistic Director