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ROTTERDAM 2018 Bright Future

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Permanent Green Light: A romantic view of adolescent suicide


- Zac Farley and Dennis Coopers’ directorial debut focuses on young French teenagers, obsessed with the idea of blowing themselves up in public

Permanent Green Light: A romantic view of adolescent suicide
Benjamin Sulpice in Permanent Green Light

Visual artist Zac Farley and American novelist Dennis Cooper screened their debut feature film in the Bright Future section at International Film Festival Rotterdam. Macabre and uncomfortable, Permanent Green Light [+see also:
film profile
contains all the clichés of the prose, poetry and novels created entirely from GIFS that are typical of the California-born writer. This time, however, the protagonists are teenagers obsessed with planning, explaining and justifying their perfect suicide. 

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As stated by Cooper on his personal blog, Permanent Green Light was inspired by the last few days of a young Australian man called Jale Bilardi, who joined ISIS in 2014. Apparently, Bilardi failed his terrorist mission, stumbling and blowing himself up without killing any other individuals in the process. Cooper and Farley believe that the young man didn’t join the Jihadist terrorist group for ideological reasons. The directors’ theory is that Bilardi didn’t want to kill others, but rather wanted access to explosives so that he could kill himself in the way he intended. It’s worth noting that Permanent Green Light isn’t a biopic about Bilardi. Nevertheless, the film denounces the usual cultural association between terrorism and any sort of suicide committed by explosives. This is a serious error on the part of the filmmakers however, because, as has been shown, most victims act without taking into account religious or ideological factors. 

And so, as the days pass by the protagonist of Permanent Green Light sinks further into depression, looking for information on the Internet about how to blow yourself up in public without hurting anyone else. Unlike Bilardi, however, Roman (Benjamin Sulpice) doesn’t join the Danesh, but rather makes contact with other young people in Cherbourg in order to create a community of people with non-terrorist leanings who want to commit suicide.

Permanent Green Light focuses on revealing the complex inner world of a teenager. As the film unfolds, Farley and Cooper replace the image of a psychopathic monster that we so often conjure up in our minds with that of a vulnerable boy looking for the approval of his friends before throwing his life away in front of their very eyes. Because Roman can’t blow himself up until he’s sure that his peers understand the beauty in doing so.

This film, which has a somewhat Hanekian feel to it, is an obvious nod to adolescent nihilism, as well as the dialogue of Nocturama [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Bertrand Bonello
film profile
by Bertrand Bonello, thanks to its invitation to forget the omnipresence of terrorism in our lives. 

Permanent Green Light was produced by the French company Local Films, and MPM Films is handling international sales.

(Translated from Spanish)

See also

Swiss Films Shorts
WBI Berlinale
Shooting Stars 2018

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