Tout Va Bien: Screening with Discussion

Final Friday Films: an anti-bourgeois film series

“The problem is not to make political films but to make films politically.” —Jean-Luc Godard / Jean-Pierre Gorin

TOUT VA BIEN
France, 1972, 125 Min
DIRECTED BY Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin
CAST Yves Montand, Jane Fonda, Vittorio Caprioli, Elizabeth Chauvin, Castel Casti, Éric Chartier, Anne Wiazemsky, et al

Godard and Gorin’s film, unpopular and hardly viewed when released, emerges nearly 50 years later as a film with increasing relevance to the days as lived during this late capitalist period. One can see many of the participants in this film wearing gilets jaunes if the film were being shot today.

From the Criterion re-release:

“As cinema, Tout Va Bien is radically simplified and blatantly diagrammatic. After the opening sequence, the Fonda character arrives at a sausage factory to do a story on modern management techniques. Montand tags along, and, as the workers have just staged a wildcat strike, the visiting celebs soon find themselves “sequestered” with the factory’s clownish boss. The approach is self-consciously Brechtian: The characters frequently address the camera. These characters are characters and the set on which they appear is an obvious set.

This two-story, open construction—evoking the cutaway girls’ school in Jerry Lewis’s The Ladies Man (1961)—is, if not Vertov’s “factory of facts,” then at least a factory for making meaning. The comic-book frame allows the filmmakers to analyze the strike as a sort of Rube Goldberg contraption and put a didactic emphasis on working conditions. Tout Va Bien insists on class struggle throughout but is mainly about radicalizing its stars. Their role in the factory is to look and learn. Indeed, Godard and Gorin upped the class-resentment ante by having the striking workers played not by real workers but by unemployed actors.”              —J. Hoberman, for Criterion, Tout Va Bien Revisited

During the coming period, films will be presented by The Revolutions Study Group of The Marxist Education Project as a continuation of the Anti-Bourgeois Film Series that was started at the Brecht Forum. These films with discussion will take place on the last Friday of each month at 6:00 pm.

Tickets are Sliding Scale

 

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May Made Me

An oral history of the 1968 uprising in France
With author Mitch Abidor
at New Perspectives Studio
456-458 West 37th Street (near 10th Avenue)/Manhattan

The mass protests that shook France in May 1968 were exciting, dangerous, creative and influential, changing European politics to this day. Students demonstrated, workers went on general strike, factories and universities were occupied. At the height of its momentum, the protests brought the entire national economy to a halt. The protests reached such a point that the French and international bourgeoisie feared civil war or revolution.

Fifty years later, here are the eye-opening oral testimonies of those young rebels. By listening to the voices of students and workers, as opposed to those of their leaders, May ’68 appears not just as a mass event, but rather as an event driven by millions of individuals, creating a mosaic human portrait of France at the time.

Published on the 50th anniversary of those days in the spring of 68, May Made Me presents the legacy of the uprising: how those explosive experiences changed the individuals who participated and their lives as lived since then.

Mitch Abidor is a translator from Brooklyn whose many translations include A Socialist History of the French Revolution by Jean Jaurès and Anarchists Never Surrender and other works by Victor Serge.

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Tales of the 1%: The Organizer

In turn-of-the-twentieth-century Turin, an accident in a textile factory incites workers to stage a walkout, which becomes a long strike, developing into an occupation. The capitalists summon in the army. The organizer (Marcello Mastrioanni) rallies the workers, converting fear into strength through collective action.

The Organizer is a dramatically political statement from director Mario Monicelli. More commonly known for lighter films like Big Deal on Madonna Street, Monicelli created an expression of the necessity of collective action that is both gritty and entertaining. In making this period piece about a factory strike in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Turin (the rapidly industrializing Italian city that would come to be called “Italy’s Detroit”), Monicelli strove for the utmost realism, casting the film with actual workers and shooting on location in one of the area’s huge textile factories.

“I wanted to show all of that. The truth about what happens in the working world.”
—Mario Monicelli, interviewed in 2006

Discussion with the Capital Studies Organizing Task Force, workers and allies who gather frequently to study the three volumes of Marx’s Capital, in order to be concrete in our analysis of capital and to better inform the class struggles against capitalists and their collaborators.

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Paris, May 1968

Mitch Abidor
Tuesday, May 30, 7:30 to 9:30 pm

This second talk will investigate the events May 1968 in France through an analysis of the writings of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the most important and interesting of its leaders, as well as the experiences of rank and file militants interviewed by Mitch Abidor for his forthcoming oral history, May Made Me.

Mitchell Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive and has published several collections of his translations. Mitch recently translated Jean Jáurès’ Socialist History of the French Revolution and A Raskolnikoff by Emmanuel Bove and is currently working on translations of further unpublished works by Victor Serge and Daniel Guérin.

Those enrolled in the New Left history course are already registered for these to sessions.

Fees listed below are sliding scale. No one is turned away for inability to pay.

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Day 1, Session 3: May 1968 in France: Learning from the Participants

A presentation by and discussion with Mitch Abidor

In preparation for an oral history of the events of May 1968 in France, Mitch Abidor interviewed over thirty participants in the events from all political tendencies and from all over the country. He’ll discuss what he learned of the experiences of those who were there and what can be learned from them.

Mitchell Abidor’s translation work and studies include anthologies of Victor Serge, the Paris Commune, the left of the French Revolution, as well as the novella A Raskolnikoff by Emmanuel Bove. He lives in Brooklyn.

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