Tracking the Global through the Local: Slon/Iskra’s Documentaries of Displacement


The French public has a distinct taste for realist representations of public crisis. Citing figures from the Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l’Image Animée (CNC), Sarah Cooper has shown that interest in documentary film is steadily on the rise in France (9), as attested to by the growing number of documentary festivals and documentary films recently released in theaters. Within this context, Martin O’Shaughnessy links the popularity of the social documentary genre to a series of political developments in France, such as the 1995 protests against the infamous “Plan Juppé,” which aimed to slash public spending, and the French electorate’s spurning in 2005 of the Constitution proposed by the European Union (2). Within this diverse and prolific genre, Slon/Iskra, a pioneering film collective founded in 1967 by militants and cinema professionals gathered around alternative e filmmaker Chris Marker, has made a name for itself. Across nearly five decades of sustained activity (first in filmmaking itself, and now largely in film production and distribution), Slon/Iskra has been documenting social discontent both in France and abroad, and today stands as one of the only survivors of the oppositional filmmaking that flourished in France in the 1960s and 1970s.

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