In 1967, Chris Marker and Mario Marret filmed BE SEEING YOU (À BIENTÔT J'ESPÈRE), about a strike and factory occupation-the first in France since 1936-by textile workers in the city of Besancon, the goals of which were unusual because the workers refused to disassociate their salary and job security demands from a social and cultural agenda.
Nevertheless when the film was completed, and the filmmakers returned to screen it for the workers in Besancon, many of them were not happy with it. LA CHARNIERE, the audio recording of their intense debate after the screening, is included on this disc as an extra, accompanied by photographs of the film workshops, shot by Ethel Blum.
In response Marker and his colleagues reorganized their efforts, and began training workers to collaboratively make their own films, under the name "The Medvedkin Group", after Alexander Medvedkin, who invented the cine-train, a mobile production unit that toured the USSR in 1932 filming workers and farmers. CLASS OF STRUGGLE, their first film, picks up a year later and focuses on the organizing efforts of workers at a nearby watch factory, particularly the story of one recently radicalized woman, Suzanne Zedet. She articulates the radical scope of the workers' demands, which include access to the tools of cultural production.
Praise for A BIENTOT, J'ESPERE:
"Terrific!" —Professor Ellen Furlough, History Dept., University of Kentucky
"Effectively places us in the middle of the strike and offers intriguing insights into the motives of the workers and organizers..." —New York Magazine
Praise for CLASS OF STRUGGLE:
"One of the finest examples of the politically engaged French documentary cinema of the late Sixties. " —Sam DiIorio, Film Comment
"Fluent, energetic, and wide-ranging!" —Catherine Lupton, Chris Marker: Memories of the Future
"One of the great films of May of 1968." —Paul Douglas Grant, Directory of World Cinema: France
"[The Medvedkin Group] would go on to make nearly a dozen films, some of them stunningly beautiful, most notably CLASS OF STRUGGLE." —Min Lee, Film Comment