“Sex is everywhere – so are we.” This is one of the many slogans plastered on the streets of France in a timely documentary Feminist repost Which is in the ear special screening section. Filmmakers Marie Perenes and Simon Dipardon follow a group of 10 women across the country protesting the harassment, rape, murder and police response to the crime. “Les Flix” – aka The Police – protests the police with a silent force, a horrible face. This is to give voice to young women, to record their dialogue about the cause.
Initially, it’s like joining a party: some conversations are interesting, others feel a bit repetitive, and you want to move on. But as the women’s story becomes more serious and personal, the film becomes more influential as it highlights the urgency of their mission.
After a brief descriptive introduction, the filmmakers allow the silent audience to relax and chat about their subjects. Sometimes they are in a bar, or on the street; At one point they sat in a circle at home with some scene-stealing kittens. Our names or official backstory are not given: just an interesting shot to introduce you to each city, town or countryside (remind me to book a holiday in Companigan). The cinematography is crisp and steady, giving it a chic, cinematic feel.
It is clear that many women – including gender minorities and trans or non-binary people – are getting to know each other, coming together for a shared reason. This allows publishers to share stories.
One young woman described slowly that she was separated from her older boyfriend at an early age. He tells her how he took her to another city and threatened to abuse and kill her. An elderly colleague burst into tears as he could not express his reaction. The camera captures the courage, intimacy and awkwardness of the moment. This powerful scene also gives a personal context to the messages that women draw and glue to the walls at night, highlighting the horrific number of homicides in France. There are many women who have not escaped their abusers, and a testimony from the mother of a murdered girl is deeply moving.
As with most protest movements, opinions on the best course of action may differ. There’s talk of violent reactions (“Your hand on my ass, my fist in your mouth”) and “Let’s hang all men!” One girl later argued that it was a humorous quote from a song, and that she was not anti-male: “I’m in more of a mood: ‘You all find a solution’ than ‘Shotis’.”
Male pedestrians often stop to question or comment on their slogans – some supportive, some confused, others hostile. A girl calls a group to make “animal noises” – it’s about challenging harassment, and it’s good to see.
There are also captivating funny moments. On a night mission, a young woman is arguing cautiously about where to glue a poster on a small residential street, whispering, “I don’t want to ruin their walls, plaster everything nicely.” A good poster girl for this thoughtful protesting cause. Let’s find the solution, indeed.