Programmed by Pierre Oscar Lévy
In 1964, Jean Ziegler was asked by Che Guevara to fight the “capitalist Monster”. Former collaborator of Kofi Annan, professor and writer, Ziegler’s books still act as a manifesto to left-wing intelligentsia. At the UN Human Rights Council, he fights against “vulture funds”, a new avatar of the “Monster”. He goes back to Cuba, in his opinion the mother of all anticapitalist forces. The visit becomes a dialogue between reality and symbolism, confronting his thinking with today’s Cuban destiny. What is the future of anticapitalism? Is Ziegler amongst the winners or losers against the “Monster”?
“Every 5 minutes, a child starves somewhere in the world”. This is what Jean Ziegler forcefully denounces in an attempt to put a stop to this “organised crime.” Nicolas Wadimoff, Ziegler’s former student and now a film director, takes us in the “master’s” footsteps to Cuba and examines his convictions, giving us a chance to witness his thought process as it develops. He films politics head on! Gramsci’s phrase that inspired the documentary’s title – “We need to combine the pessimism of the intellect with the optimism of the will” – isn’t entirely exact. The literal translation from the Italian is “I'm a pessimist because of intelligence, but an optimist because of will”… the slight alteration reflects the subtlety of this seemingly classic film. This extract from a letter to Gramsci’s brother, written from prison in 1929, symbolises the conception of a man, alone, facing up to the fascist “monster”. Jean Ziegler, portrayed on a "mission" in the heart of international institutions, also prompts a different kind of “uprising of consciousness”.
Pierre Oscar Lévy