Juste un mouvement [Just a Movement]
Babylon, Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 30, 10178 Berlin
Directed by Vincent Meessen (BE, FR), 2021, 108′′, in French, Mandarin, Wolof with English subtitles
“Omar is dead!,” a voice cried out in Dakar, on May 11, 1973. A young militant philosopher—and the articulate Maoist in Jean-Luc Godard’s film La Chinoise (1967)—had allegedly committed suicide in his Gorée Island prison cell. His family and friends did not believe a word of it, demanding that light be shed on this political crime. A phantom haunts the Senegalese capital, itself in a state of unrest. Just a Movement is a free reprise of La Chinoise, resituating its characters fifty years later in Dakar and updating its plot to offer a meditation on the relationship between politics, justice, and memory. Omar Blondin Diop becomes the key character. Through this cinematographic gesture that oscillates and circulates between documentary and filmed essay, Meessen questions the Senegal of yesterday and today, and the not-so-subtle neo-imperialism of a China that uses the soft powers of education and culture to penetrate the present and future of Senegal, interfering in particular in the memorial work of reappropriating history, a current analyzed in the film by the Senegalese intellectual Felwine Sarr.
Vincent Meessen’s artistic and filmic work is woven from a constellation of figures, gestures, and signs that maintain a polemical and sensible relation to the writing of history and the Westernization of imaginaries. He decenters and multiplies gazes and perspectives to explore the variety of ways in which colonial modernity has impacted the fabric of contemporary subjectivities. In his work both as an artist and a filmmaker, he likes to use procedures of collaboration that undermine the authority of the author and emphasize the intelligence of collectives. Meessen is a member of the Jubilee platform for research and artistic production.
Followed by a discussion with Vincent Meessen and Marie Helene Pereira (member of the 12th Berlin Biennale’s artistic team)