Jean-Gabriel Périot from France


As our focus on the Short Film Competition, for the last issue we interviewed two short film directors: Jean-Gabriel Périot from France and Ariel Shaban from Kosovo. Jean-Gabriel périot is an experimental filmmaker in the classical meaning of the word. He uses traditional tools to express revolutionary criticism on the present society and economics. His short film The Barbarians is a five-minute montage of various archives, accompanied by excellent music.


How do you feel about screening your film in Abu Dhabi?

During the making process of The Barbarians, I hadn't expected yet the coming of the Arab Spring. The film already had screenings on different festivals, but I am not sure about the reactions of the Middle Eastern audience. I guess it will automatically connote the recent events, but the main feedback will be similar to the European one. Since we live in the same world, we share the same problems. The number of protest movements is growing nowadays, not only in this region, but on all the five continents. The global situation is similar to the sixties, when everybody was fighting because of, more or less, similar reasons. As I see, you can find the difference between the past and the present chiefly in the goals. Fifty years ago, people definitely had the same goals: to abolish poverty and discrimination, to avoid repression. But what are the goals now? I am not sure at all.


Are you yourself a revolutionist, as well?

Making experimental movies is not the best way to create a revolution. There is no doubt about the importance of political films, but I am sure they can't change anything. The traditional artistic ways of objection rising are important, because they can introduce a discussion. However they will never be as strong as just walking on the streets and keeping the physical fight. Yes, I am against the capitalism, and I try to do my best in this battle, but I prefer to choose my own arms.


Your film is screened at the Marina Mail, a huge shopping center...

After all, I am not naive. I criticize, but I would never deny the actual processes. If you attend festivals regularly, you will find one or two political films everywhere, even at the festivals taking place in the big cinema multiplexes. I couldn't imagine myself in such a place before, but now it seems to me very interesting. Of course I know that most of the films have a different conception, but I am always happy when I get the chance to give voice to my opinion.


Could you tell more about it?

My film is a kind of poetic adaptation of one of Alain Brossat's thoughts. He is a French philosopher, who once said: "If politics were to come back, it could only be from its savage and disreputable fringe. Then, a muffled rumor shall arise whence that roar is heard: 'We are scum! We are barbarian!’ People usually think that the word 'barbarian' means something negative or suspicious. For me, it means just a point of view, just a way in which we sometimes look at each other. It has more to do with a new beginning, than with the end. Sometimes, the so-called barbarians open the future, and you cannot be sure about who comes from among them.


How can new media tools influence your work?

To tell the truth, I am a traditional experimental filmmaker, even if it sounds a little bit ironic. I usually work with very classic tools: pictures, archives, and so on. I don't think that Twitter and Facebook can make revolution alone, because they are just the combination of new inventions. People always find surprising tools for communication and self-expression, and, of course, I also have a Facebook account to chat with my friends. We simply adapt to new technologies.


Your art addresses intellect and emotions at the same time...

Using photographic pictures instead of moving images gives a lot of freedom. Since I am originally an editor, I play with pictures with great pleasure. However I often mix the political and emotional message, I never consider politics as the main level in my works. I am sure you want to ask: "Why?" The explanation is very simple: sharing human emotions is much easier than sharing politics.


By Janka Barkoczi
Abu Dhabi festival magazine October 2011