Film: Goran Hugo Olsson’s “Concerning Violence”


In Paris, the Luminor Hôtel de Ville theater (formerly, Le Nouveau Latina) will screen Goran Hugo Olsson’s Concerning Violence in its Thursday evening series Jeudis Documentaires [Documentary Thursdays], which are in turn part of the International Film on Human Rights Festival [Festival International du Film des Droits de l’Homme]. Concerning Violence, which uses Frantz Fanon’s writings as a main thematic thread along with little-known archival material, will be screened this Thursday, January 29, at 8:00pm at the Luminor, at 20 rue du Temple, Paris (4e), France.

Here are excerpts from a film review by Peter DeBruge:

In “Concerning Violence,” Olsson [Goran Hugo Olsson] adds the nuclear heft of Frantz Fanon’s treatise “The Wretched of the Earth” to that cocktail, pairing passages read by Lauryn Hill with gut-wrenching eye-witness accounts of imperialism gone wrong, resulting in a festival hot potato engineered to rile even the most progressive arthouse crowds.

Picking up where “Mixtape” left off, Olsson’s latest debuted at Sundance with the subtitle “Nine Scenes From the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense,” making a nearly year-long world tour before opening at New York’s IFC Film Center on Dec. 5. While not exactly a sequel, this follow-up docu reflects the shifting focus of Swedish activist filmmakers during the mid-’70s, who grabbed their cameras and traveled to the front lines of African independence, observing firsthand the fall of apartheid and liberation of a people who’d been exploited by white Europeans for decades.

In searching for a mechanism to unify this incredible footage, which has gone largely unseen by the general public ever since, Olsson seized upon Fanon’s 1961 tract, a controversial anarchist cookbook which analyzed the psychology of occupation and identified violent upheaval as the only means to overthrow colonialism — a system Fanon referred to as “violence in its natural state.” First published in 1961 and subsequently banned in France and the U.S., the book now seems less ominous than prescient, having accurately anticipated the bloody upheaval that many Third World countries underwent in order to shake off their white oppressors.

[. . .] Acting as an extension of those courageous reporters who did the original filming, Olsson lets the colonizers damn themselves, as when a white man looking for sympathy as he’s forced to leave Rhodesia speculates, “I could take out four Affies before they take me out.”

This interview, which takes place poolside while a black servant serves beers, reveals the sort of racist attitudes, once prevalent, that seem inconceivable to younger generations (as the relatively tame outbursts by George Wallace and other characters in “Selma” may to some skeptics). But they were once the norm, and nothing illustrates it better than cold, objective archival footage, serving as a sort of time capsule to the past.

There can be no rational debate with such people, entrenched in the illusion of their own superiority — which of course is Fanon’s point, a direct contradiction of Dr. King’s nonviolent tactics. Here, read by Hill and emphasized in bold white lettering onscreen, Fanon’s words reinforce the fight against the bullies (the acceptable word when what might otherwise be called “terrorism” originates with those in power), as seen in the jungles of Angola and Mozambique, or in an extended chapter in which a Swedish television crew happened to observe a Liberian mining strike. [. . .]

For full review, see

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