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ROMA 2021

Crítica: Une autre idée du monde

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- El escritor, filósofo y activista francés Bernard-Henri Lévy ofrece una vuelta al mundo visitando las guerras olvidades y las crisis humanitarias más urgentes

Crítica: Une autre idée du monde

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

You can say what you like about Bernard-Henri Lévy, but not that he is a salon intellectual. Some old images included in the documentary The Will to See - co-directed by the writer, philosopher and activist with Marc Roussell and presented as an event at the 2021 Rome Film Festival - portray him in hot moments of recent history as a direct witness to conflicts and humanitarian crises; at 22, he was already in Bangladesh, and then in the 1980s, alongside Joan Baez or Liv Ullmann in Cambodia and Thailand. "Writing, talking, but first of all going on the field," he said. Inspired by his book Sur la Route des Hommes Sans Noms (On the Road of the Nameless Men), this new film testifies, after 25 years of written reportage, to BHL's (as he is called in France) desire to capture his travels in images.

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The philosopher without borders calls this documentary a 'world tour of forgotten wars,' and it really does feel like a descent into hell, with images that are often shocking, unsterilised by television censorship, showing the worst of mankind. It all began with a proposal from Olivier Royant, editor of Paris Match, who in the middle of lockdown offered BHL a series of investigations.

The doc begins with a plea for help for Christians in Nigeria, massacred by Boko Haram, the African Isis, and abandoned by a government poisoned by radical Islamism. In the Middle Belt, BHL meets Jumai Victor, who has seen houses burn and her husband and four children die before her eyes. She is pregnant, so her torturers limit themselves to butchering her arm. At the end of this journey, one is left with the terrible feeling of being back in 2007, when Khartoum's mounted militias sowed death in the villages of Darfur or South Sudan, or even longer ago, in Rwanda. BHL returns to Paris, feeling disconnected, not understanding the anger of the yellow vests.

Next trip: destination Syrian Kurdistan, to Rojava, the de facto autonomous region on the front line against Isis and which "the West shamefully abandoned in October 2019 when Erdogan invaded." BHL meets leader Aldar Khalil, "the invisible inspirer of the Kurdish democratic revolution." On the frontline, he meets young Kurdish female fighters. "Equality with men is achieved through the weapons in their hands," he reflects bitterly. He thinks of the Amazon warriors of Queen Penthesilea, who defend cities in Homer's Iliad. He moves on to another forgotten war: the "low-intensity" one in eastern Ukraine, in the Donbass, 450 km of frontline "against elite units working for Putin." How do they resist, BHL asks, the world's second largest army? "'The aberration of a war in Europe."

And then the return to Africa, to Somalia. In Mogadishu, "a ghost town, abandoned to the warlords." In Dhaka, Bangladesh, he meets Sheikh Hasina, "the only woman on Earth who rules a Muslim country," and then visits the refugee camps of Cox's Bazar, where the pandemic has worsened the situation. He returns to a Paris deserted by lockdown, "but more important than being at home is being near those who have no home." He leaves for Lesbos, Greece. The Moria refugee camp is the most inhuman in Europe. Then on to Libya, which brought him so much criticism after his controversial documentary The Oath of Tobruk. Finally, Afghanistan, where he meets the leader of the anti-Taliban resistance Ahmad Massoud, the son of the national hero Commander Massoud, killed by Al Qaeda. Why this incessant travelling? To the class of Parisian students who meet him, BHL answers that it is "the desire to transmit knowledge." You never get used to it, you are always a newcomer to abuse and horror.

The documentary was produced by Kristina Larsen with Madison Films, in co-production with France 2 Cinéma and the participation of France Télévisions, Canal+ and Ciné+.

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(Traducción del italiano)

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