“Mississippi Burning” – Atonement after 43 Years – Panorama – Society

America is again confronted with the dark chapter: the murderous struggle of the Ku Klux Klan against blacks and the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Like in 2005, when the victims in “Mississippi Burning”, world-famous for its 1988 film adaptation, received late justice. White preacher Edgar Ray Killen, now 80, was convicted of the triple murders of James Chaney, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman: three young whites who helped put black people on electoral lists in Mississippi in 1964 so that they could exercise their political rights. That Thursday, James Seale, 71 years old, was interrogated for the murder of two young black men, Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore, in May 1964.

This story also has the ingredients of a disturbing film: two brutal killings, an older brother, Thomas Moore, Vietnam veteran, eaten up by self-reproach and feelings of revenge, who almost resorts to vigilante justice, is addicted to alcohol, wants to give up – until a young journalist see him the Canadian David Ridgen, and they still hunt down the murderers almost 43 years later. They find help with the white US prosecutor Dunn Lampton, who was in the army with Moore. They were put on the track by “Mississippi Burning”.

Mississippi, May 2, 1964: The Ku KluxKlan is terrorizing black people and their helpers. Whites are also worried by rumors that blacks are arming themselves and preparing for an uprising despite Martin Luther King’s call for non-violent protest. Charles Moore, a 19-year-old black man, was kicked out of college because he took part in protests. He works in a woodworking company, this morning he wants to pick up his pay packet. A friend, Henry Dee, accompanies him. As it later turns out, accomplice Charles Edwards suspects he is spying on his wife. These details are in the FBI files.

On Highway 84 near Meadville, Seale takes her in his VW. In fact, he wants to “interrogate” her with colleagues from the KuKlux Klan about how it is with arming the blacks. In a forest, Seale takes out a sawed-off shotgun, the two blacks are beaten with sticks and chains and questioned until they are unconscious. In order not to leave any traces, the whites bring the two bodies out onto the Mississippi, weigh down moors with an engine block, Dee with fragmented railroad tracks and throw them alive into the swampy waters.

Local police and FBI are investigating the disappearance, but the main focus is on the white victims in “Mississippi Burning”. During the search, they find the bodies of the two blacks. They interrogate Seale and his cousin Edwards. He says he wasn’t involved in the murders, the blacks were alive when he left. Seale refuses to testify. The evidence is reportedly insufficient.

Older brother Thomas Moore’s anger grows with whiskey consumption. He dreams of taking revenge on all of Meadville by poisoning the drinking water. One night he drives three rifles loaded into Edward’s Street but cannot find the house. Alcohol is slowly killing its energies. Only the Canadian TV journalist Ridgen awakens his fighting spirit: Justice shouldn’t depend on skin color. They sift through all available material. The breakthrough comes when they confront Edwards, 72, in front of the church door. Plagued by remorse, he declares himself ready to testify against Seale. On Monday the will be brought before the judge.

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Philadelphia – film 1993 – Screenrush

Andrew Beckett, a brilliant lawyer, is called to a meteoric career. Adored by his environment, nothing seems to be able to slow his ascent. However, the day his associates learned that Andrew had AIDS, they did not hesitate to use professional misconduct as a reason to dismiss him. Andrew decides not to let it go and attacks the firm for unfair dismissal.



4 awards and 4 nominations

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Agnieszka Holland, transit plan in Paris – Liberation

This article originally appeared in Libé on February 2, 1984.

Filmmaker Agnieszka Holland was in Stockholm on December 13, 81, Jaruzelski’s D-Day. She now lives in Paris with her daughter. It is not the exile that she chose, it is the exile which is imposed on her. By chance, the force of things. At 33 years old. Eighteen months later, she wrote a fascinating article on the situation of Polish cinema in Zeszyty Literackie, a review made abroad and which entered Poland illegally (the French translation appeared in the issue “Polish” of the magazine Silex). The authorities’ response was blunt. Government spokesman Jerzy Urban signs a salty article in the weekly Tu i Teraz under his pseudonym Rem: “It follows from the designs and intentions expressed by Holland herself that, in the interest of the state, this citizen must be excluded from all activities of filmmaker, as well as from work in cultural institutions and in those which influence the public opinion”. Excuse the little.

After December 13, Agnieszka Holland decided to take the risk of speaking. “I had to do it”. She didn’t think her statements would weigh so heavily, she would have preferred to film, “It’s more constructive”. But Holland, a Polish filmmaker living temporarily in France, has not signed a film since his non-return to Poland.

We know the beautiful Provincial actors (grand prize of the Gdansk festival in 81). His third film, A lonely woman, was shelved by the authorities like many other unseen-banned films and these same authorities refused to send his films to the current Polish cinema retrospective in Beaubourg.

When I went to see her in Paris, Agnieszka Holland was working on the adaptation of a novel by Dostoyevsky for Wajda, who had welcomed her into the famous group X, now dissolved (she had already co-signed the script for him. of Without Anesthesia). She was also correcting a script given by a German producer that she will shoot if all goes well. But all is not going very well. “I tried to present a personal script, the producer didn’t want it. So, I resigned myself to accepting his proposal first and then fighting on one of my scenarios ”. The film she was supposed to make in France (with Isabelle Huppert and all and all) flipped. For complex reasons and an identical evil : “It was too personal a scenario”. Agnieszka Holland experiences the economics of West European cinema.

And Poland in all this? It begins with two words on his door: Please knock ! Please knock!

AGNIESZKA HOLLAND – When I started making cinema, I presented five or six scripts which were all refused by Polish censorship. Then I learned how to write a screenplay that goes through censorship. In France, there is also a censorship. It is even more difficult to make a film today in France than in the Poland of the 1970s. It is censorship which is not only economic but also affects the subject of films. Producers are generally open and intelligent people but cut off from the tragedies of the world and everyday life. Most French directors participate in this universe. It is not their fault. It is the French cinema system that produces this: dinners, festivals, number of admissions, American market, etc. As the failure of auteur cinema is impressive here, we are asked to find a middle way between our desires and the usual mainstream film.

But if the compromise with the producers is such that I can’t make the film I wanted to make, what good is it? If I did not return to Poland after December 13, it is because I did not want to enter into a game of compromise with the Polish government. And here, I would have to accept this game with the producers. It’s stupid, isn’t it?

RELEASE – Certainly.

AH – You have just returned from Poland, you have seen how sad the streets are. In Paris when I walk in the streets, I feel good. I read Liberation, the World. Articles speak to me of very serious social and political problems and then I go to the cinema to see French films where these dramas do not exist. I understand that the French public is not interested in our problems, but I have the impression that they are not interested in theirs.

RELEASE – What are your latest scripts about?

AH – Not necessarily from Poland. But all are marked by the totalitarian experience because it is my deepest experience and the greatest mystery of our century. I would like to express this in my films. Simply. By telling it through people, not through mechanisms.

RELEASE – December 13, 81 finds you in Stockholm, then in Paris. Have you thought about returning to Poland?

AH – Several times. And then I got a job … Now I want to make films here first. Beautiful films that will perhaps be successful. I fear that they will never be important films because what matters to me is to make films for the Poles. I depend on Poland. For my passport, for a lot of other things. I live in my luggage. In between. I cannot think of having left Poland forever. Imagine: I shoot a movie and hear that my mother there is sick. What to do ? When I get home, I lose my passport. Maybe for several years. After 68, I was refused for ten years.

I remember, while I was living in Czechoslovakia (AH went to film school in Prague, not having the diplomas to enter that in Lodz), I waited for five months for me to be stopped. I was nervous, unbearable. When they put me in prison (for a month) I felt a sense of great freedom. I thought to myself: what more can they do? Nothing. (Of course torture is more serious than ambiguous freedom). You have to choose the situation where you feel the most independent, the most subjectively free.

RELEASE – So you will return to Poland one day or another?

AH – It is quite possible. I think my life will be sad. My colleagues and I will no longer be at the same point. And talking to those in charge at the Ministry of Culture will be unbearable for me. One can think that the culture in Poland will evolve in a more liberal way. I don’t really believe in it. We will always remain court artists. It is perhaps more important to be independent than to make films.

RELEASE – In Paris, do you read the Polish press?

AH – Apart from Tygodnyk Powswechny (a highly respected Catholic weekly) I don’t read anything. The official press, I can’t. Of course, I read underground newspapers. Their language remains too militant. After two years, we need more in-depth analyzes. It’s difficult.

RELEASE – Do you feel disconnected?

AH – I have the feeling that I am in the know. But that may not be true. Things pass. For example, I very quickly forgot the censorship which was nevertheless omnipresent. I speak with you bluntly, without control. However, the article will be read there. Before, I had the instinct for censorship. I don’t like Poles landing from Warsaw and saying to me: you can’t understand. I think I can really feel the social and political situation. Maybe better than if I was there. Many Poles have lost the general sense of reality. Polono-centrists, they do not understand that the Third World and the Middle East are the keys to changing the world.

RELEASE – A year and a half ago you said you were a “professional pessimist”.

AH – I still am. On the one hand, I need to act, to find solutions: write scripts, make films. On the other hand, when I express myself, I am pessimistic. Almost catastrophist. During Solidarity, I was quite sickened by the militant optimism of certain films. It was during this time that I made The Lonely Woman, a film that could not be more pessimistic. But also optimistic like the others because to make such films is to believe that filming the danger or the evil of living can change the future.

Her little girl came to say goodbye to us. In Polish. And then in French. The phone rang. Agnieszka Holland responded in her native language. I drank a few sips of coffee from a glass, like there. There was a book lying on the table, printed in a weird language full of Zs and W. I was no longer quite in Paris. Agnieszka neither. Often at night, she dreams of returning to Poland. “I am in Paris and, miraculously, I find myself there. It is not a very pleasant dream ”.

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write between heaven and earth – Liberation

This article was published in Libé on February 2, 1984.

RELEASE. – How can we explain the intensity and speed of the visions in The book ?

PIERRE GUYOTAT. – I really saw what I was writing. There is an extreme acuity of vision, very fast and very precise, which means that we stay little time on a body or on a sequence, that the gesticulation is intertwined, continues, from a body which is a certain geographical point in the gesture of another body which is often poles apart. This acuity is to be there. I write where I write that these bodies are, really there. What can also cause this vertigo, these shortcuts, these very brief appearances and disappearances of limbs, masses, whole bodies or agglomerates of bodies, is that we cannot make bodies talk, they do not have no time to talk. I can only signify what they are by gestures: bodies animated by something other than transport, slavery or forced sexuality. They are animated because I have tried to give them what I imagine to have been the soul of these multitudes of bodies; the soul, that is to say their capacity for resistance, for resignation. There is a really minimal gesture that manifests an interior life.

And where does the haste, the effect of haste come from?

This is because the project was huge at the start. The project was such that I had to do it quickly, that I imperatively pace this journey to get to this point at which I did not arrive, which was that of the first man. Language imposed itself, just as it imposed itself in Prostitution, because of the scenography, the figures in presence, etc. We cannot do this accounting which is in The book in a traditional language; you have to go very quickly, extremely quickly, to try to establish a poetic language, a poetry of human accounting.

Do orthographic distortions, syncopations, apostrophes appear in the first draft or is it a subsequent formatting?

It is written directly like that. What is published is the original manuscript, the first typed draft. I did not do any editing. It’s gross. Since Prostitution and Leap Forward, I’m used to this language, I don’t have to make any effort, it transforms itself. I did not decide such or such change of vowel, it was necessary, musically and rhythmically it was necessary. I don’t do clear text before, that goes without saying. I think, I imagine, I organize in this language. It has become my natural language.

Under what conditions was a text like this written?

I work a lot outside. Around me, I have the sun, the bad weather. I even write in the cold, in the rain, under the trees or with a large umbrella. The anguish dissipates a lot outside. Writing outdoors, especially for a book of this epic dimension, is essential. The air is around you, you hear noises, screams, you see smoke. When it’s night out you have candles or a kerosene lamp on a rotten old table, you have the sky above you. That’s how we should be able to write, and even do everything, for the rest. It is very important to see your page, the page on the typewriter get wet at the end of a very long day of work, the ink being drunk by the rising mist, or even the small corrections handwritten letters washed by rain. Frost is also very important. You just need to cover up or undress when it’s summer. There’s a lot going on around someone writing in a relatively large area by the sea or in a large meadow, in a scrubland. There are beasts that come, you are often in front of the same tree, or it is the same shrub that shelters you and you change places with the sun to avoid sunstroke.

I only like to work like this. My terror is the closed room, the table. For The book, when I was outside, I didn’t even have a table. A canvas lounge chair, with a square, red board on the footrest, where I put the typewriter and the notebook. I always take a lot of notes when I write, notes that immediately stick to the writing of the text, very simple comments in telegraphic style or in English, mixed with practical things to do, or funny, or mundane, well everyday ; terms to be used in the short or medium term, constructions of neologisms for example or junction points to not lose sight of between sequences, or sequences started, to be completed, which I never did, of course. I noted the time, or things that were happening around me, people who came to see. Because very quickly someone who writes in the middle of nature, it becomes clear, even if the village is 3 or 4 kilometers away … If only the noise of the typewriter or the music.

Do you listen to music to write? Which music ?

For The book, I started the day with polyphony: Roland de Lassus, Palestrina, Victoria, all the great polyphonists. This science of vocal volume, of volute, for me it is the greatest music that is with Webern or Schumann. These great polyphonies which are rarely triumphant, rather funereal, the Improper Good Friday of Palestrina, the Prophecies of the Sibyl of Lassus, the Miserere. It is necessary to start the job. I’m not at all a contemplative, listening to music has to be profitable. Music only really touches me if I can use it. And the music puts in this state that I would call sadness, with what the word has strong, the great sadness of Schubert or Schumann, the immense sadness which is commensurate with the world and which is not sentimental. . It is necessary for inspiration. It’s a state of tenderness over the universe, and a little about yourself too: it’s not that funny to write such texts. A sadness that allows you to tame all the great forces, to have everything in mind. A kind of affection for everything that exists. We don’t write in spite of things, that’s obvious. And at the same time, it is a harmonization of all that is possible, of all that we know culturally, a kind of appeal also to art in general, to the artists who have preceded you, to great ancestors. It’s a big family of which I belong when I write and of which I am excluded when I no longer write. When I am no longer able to assume a fiction, I am no longer anything.

Are there in the text traces of this writing in the open air, of this music?

Music is an element of this open air. You write between the earth and the sky. I have always included in my writings what I saw or had just seen immediately. It can completely change the course of writing. For Samora Machel, I was writing in Corsica in a sheepfold, there were sheep around me. The Corsican night, the language, the vegetation, the sheep with their degurgitation balls have become very important elements of the prostitution slavery scene. The whores also have their stuff degurgitating balls that you can imagine in a brothel they play with. Hence also in The Book the accumulation of bestiary, fauna, flora. It was the Aix countryside or the Hérault, or the sea, several places, the mountain, the plain, the island. Which makes the original manuscript a campaign manuscript, so to speak.

Were there any readings that accompanied the writing of this text?

It’s an inner culture, which I have always had. And it is relatively large because the past is not over for me. Everything leaves traces. Genocide leaves traces, so it is not over. I used simple things, old 3rd or 4th grade textbooks on Greece, on Rome, on the Armenian genocide which is an important part of the first part of the Book. I also used a little book on Ethiopia that my friend Dominique de Roux had given me and which justified the intervention of fascist Italy in Ethiopia. It was called The last bulwark of slavery. Sometimes I only need a few technical terms for a whole sequence to be built around these words. A large number of sequences are variations around 3 or 5 or 7 technical terms. And then I traveled a lot on maps, on the atlas in regions that I do not know, Ethiopia for example (although the maternal family may be of Ethiopian origin). There are rides or sequences by boat, I made it all travel by looking at maps where the relief was precisely drawn: valleys, gorges, tributaries, forts, ports, coves, bays, by looking at geological, economic maps.

Hence one thing that is very important: when I happen to come back to places that my mind, my soul, my hand has used, shaped, it’s strange, it’s like Orpheus who turns around and for which Eurydice disappears. It becomes completely banal, even the most beautiful landscapes, the most beautiful bodies, the most beautiful monuments are tarnished, they are emptied, I have to bend down to find a certain grandeur, it causes a feeling of extreme anguish and terror .

We must revive this idea of ​​inspiration, a second state, and this conception of the work that kills. The work can kill. When we have gone very far in the exasperation of the ego, the fear, the terror, the Faustian contradiction, it causes an extremely nervous writing which exhausts the nerves. The work consumes, it also consumes you, we no longer think of eating. In 81, that was it, I thought I had eaten. A foreign object, a food settling down and living its own life in a body which was entirely occupied by this poetry, this language, this music, this vowel breath which makes like a sound column in the body, it is a short – terrible circuit. I felt it. I almost died of it. Anyway, what is the point of making art if it is not to revolutionize it, and not to risk your own life in it?

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