FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: It's hard being loved by jerks

Opening the documentary are images of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in Amsterdam in 2004.
FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW: It's hard being loved by jerks
It’s hard being loved by jerks is a French documentary which may by its name alone, misguide the viewer into believing that they are going to be exposed to gruesome imagery of an abusive relationships. Not the case with this film. Opening the documentary are images of Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in Amsterdam in 2004. Following these, also shown is the famous Danish (newspaper Jyllands-Posten) satirical cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed depicted wearing a bomb-like turban, which caused huge protests from the Islamic community world-wide in 2005. My instant reaction was, to make myself very comfortable, as this was going to be a “bumpy ride.” I was going to either watch: (a) an anti-Islamic film, or (b) a film about artists who provoke powerful emotions. Either way, this was going to be interesting. The story is actually more about the French satirical political weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo (English: Charlie Weekly) and its editor Philippe Val. The newspaper has a very strongly left-wing and anarchist slant. Charlie Hebdo in a sort of journalistic solidarity reprinted the “bomb-turban” cartoon from Jyllands-Postenand (including the original eleven which accompanied it) and added some of their own. The front page was a very large image of a weeping Prophet Muhammed saying "C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons" ("it's hard to be loved by jerks"), the title was "Mahomet débordé par les intégristes" ("Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists"). Overnight the ‘fireworks ignited’ and there was havoc in France. French President Jacques Chirac got involved, stating "overt provocations" which could inflame passions. "Anything that can hurt the convictions of someone else, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided." The Grand Mosque and the Union of French Islamic Organisations (UOIF) sued the publication, claiming the cartoons as racist and lacking respect. Publisher Philippe Val replied with "It is racist to imagine that they can't understand a joke." I enjoyed watching the arguing and fact enlightening, throughout the film. I swayed back and forth more than a sailboat out at sea. At one moment, I was agreeing with the Muslim clerics: “Yes, yes! The newspaper was being disrespectful. How dare they publish something which portrays an entire religious group as terrorists? How arrogant of them.” The very next scene, I was getting all heated up about the newspaper’s point of view, demanding freedom of the press everywhere! Filmmaker Daniel Leconte, successfully leads the audience of It’s hard being loved by jerks – like ‘Hansel and Gretel’ following a trail of crumbs – down a seemingly simple path which actually leads to a multi-layered story and holds one’s interest to the very end. The film is just a little slow in some parts, but it is very intellectual and thought-provoking, it is worth watching and then discussing with people who are up for a heated debate. "C'est dur d'être aimé par des cons" ("it's hard to be loved by jerks") Directed by: Daniel Leconte Documentary 118 minutes Rating: MA15+ French Film Festival

media release

Wednesday 25 February, 2009

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Source: media release submitted to Arts Hub