Christophe Chataigné


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Director Philippe Lioret; Release date: 6 November

Anyone who watched the news last month would have been shocked to see how refugees in Calais were treated by the French government when it decided to close down their camps. One image in particular encapsulated the day - a teenager totally traumatised by the violence of the riot police sent in to destroy the refugees' makeshift camp.

This month's release of Welcome is timely. It provides an insight into the treatment of refugees at the hands of the French government - last month's raid was the continuation of a process, not a one-off event.

Army of Crime

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Director Robert Guédiguian; Release date: 2 October

An inspiring story of everyday heroism will probably attract the attention of socialists and people fighting for a better world.

If the film was about a resistance group of mainly immigrants, fighting Nazis and their French collaborators in the occupied Paris of the Second World War, I'm sure 99 percent of Socialist Review readers would not hesitate to book their cinema tickets. This is what Robert Guédiguian has chosen as a subject for his latest film.

Double punishment for Calais refugees

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On the morning of 22 September French riot police razed a makeshift camp in Calais where mostly Afghan refugees were living as they waited to cross over to Britain.

Despite the presence of human rights activists, the police arrested 276 people - half of them minors.

Eric Besson, the French immigration minister, ordered the clearout of what was dubbed "the jungle" in order to "stop traffickers".

It is ironic of Besson to try to put a humanistic veneer on his action. Refugees set up the camp after French authorities decided in November 2002 to close the Red Cross camp in Sangatte that used to look after them. And the French government wasn't worried when most of the refugees found themselves on the streets at the beginning of winter.

A journey on the railroad

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Sin Nombre tells the story of a Honduran immigrant family on a dangerous train journey through Mexico to the US. US filmmaker Cary Fukunaga talks to Christophe Chataigné about his astounding and gripping debut

Why did you choose immigration as the subject for your first film? It seems like a risky choice.

I didn't really think about it in those terms. I did a short film while still at film school. It was my second year project, not my thesis project, which typically as a film student you save for your calling card film - the film that you think might start your career. For your second year film you can just do whatever you want. And rather than do something ridiculous I wanted to do a serious film, more about today's issues.


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Kronos Quartet

The Kronos Quartet is probably one of the most prolific string quartets around. Over the past 30 years it has released more than 40 recordings and performed live countless times (it spends at least five months touring every year). But what's most impressive with the quartet is its thirst to commission original works (more than 600 of them) and the number of artists it works with.

Iceland and the saucepan revolution

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"We managed to topple the government using the best of non-violent protests, civil disobedience and political satire," - 24 year old receptionist Guðjón Heiðar Valgarðsson encapsulates what many of the protesters felt when on 26 January the then prime minister, Geir Hilmar Haarde, announced the resignation of his government.

"The Saucepan Revolution" as it is called, because of the pots and pans protesters had with them, made Haarde the first leader to resign as a result of the global economic crisis.

Haarde's right wing Independence Party had been in power for nearly two decades, steering Iceland's economy away from the fish industry and geothermal energy to finance by deregulating the banking sector in the late 1990s.

Unforgiving Years

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Victor Serge, New York Review of Books, £9.99

The life of Victor Serge was fascinating. Born in Belgium in 1890, editor of an anarchist paper in France in 1908, imprisoned for five years from 1912, he eventually found his way to Russia in 1919 after having heard about the 1917 Revolution while in Spain. A few months later he joined the Bolsheviks, and remained faithful to the ideals of the October Revolution till his death in 1947. Like some revolutionaries who were involved in Trotsky's Left Opposition he had to leave Russia to survive Stalin's purges.

Acoustic: The best of Souad Massi

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Souad Massi started in a rock band in her native Algeria, eventually fleeing the country because of the political nature of the outfit and its popularity - during live performances Massi used to invite people on stage and start debates about life in Algeria.

In solidarity with the Palestinian people, she also recently refused to play in Tel-Aviv during a tour of the Middle East, during which she performed in Ramallah.

The 12 songs on this CD are a good introduction to the Algerian artist Souad Massi. With influences from folk to Flamenco via popular north African music and Portuguese Fado, this live recording is like a warm embrace in winter.

A Comedy of Power

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Director: Claude Chabrol; Release date: 14 December

French master of suspense Claude Chabrol is one of those film directors who has always denounced the hypocrisy of the French ruling class. A Comedy of Power is no exception. This slow paced and dialogue-rich film has its roots in the "Elf affair" - a scandal involving a minister's mistress on the Elf payroll, arms deals and corruption to preserve or further the company's and France's interests.

No peace in Somalia

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The US-backed invasion of Somalia by Ethiopian forces has predictably turned into a disaster for the Somali people.

It has been a year now since the United Islamic Courts were overthrown after being in power for six months. During that time much of the violence and brutality of the contending local elites had been brought to a halt.

Last December's invasion, supported by US special forces, aircraft and ships, left the Ethiopian troops in charge of the country. But they have been unable to impose a government with even a shred of democratic legitimacy, and along with the transitional federal government have faced mounting opposition.


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