Programmed by Marie-José Sirach
Every police officer in France is on the trail of the mysterious “Cellule 34” that’s issued the President of the Republic with a death threat. 150 officers, including the anti-terrorist brigade, turn up in a small village in the south of France. Who are these dangerous granddads accused of being the authors of the anonymous letter? This is the unbelievable story of a legal farce that shook the entire country right up to the presidential palace, and brought the elite anti-terrorist police to a small village where a band of villagers more Obelix than Asterix were putting up resistance. These eccentric resistant fighters are well aware that democracy only wears out if you don’t use it. A fable about today’s France.
In Saint-Pons de Thomières, a village perched high in the hills in southern France, the police aren’t taking any chances with terrorism. Early one morning, sure of their intelligence, they arrest a handful of residents suspected of sending anonymous death threats to various politicians including Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic at the time. Who are these dangerous individuals rounded up at the crack of dawn? They’re “not exactly sinister-looking but not far off”, to paraphrase the comedian Coluche… Some of them have long hair, others have tattoos. They hang out at a place called La Cigale, the local bar. Their average age is 70… these gun-toting whistleblowing granddads are suspected of being the authors of the infamous – not to say vague – death threats. The accusation is based on hot air, and disappears like a puff of smoke.
The film illustrates the repressive, political spiral in which everyone who doesn’t toe the line becomes a suspect. The accusations are dropped, leaving acerbic humour to tell the story where the heroes are citizens, activists who meddle in what is their business and aren’t easily cowed by the authorities. A cheeky, jubilant film – a film that combines utopia and politics!
Journalist and critic at L’Humanité