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With his 1999 feature debut “Human Resources,” director Laurent Cantet – who later won the Palme d’Or at Cannes with “The Class” – traced the economic and cultural fissures between France’s blue-collar, non-urban set, and the country’s managerial elite. That conflict has played out writ large across the streets of Paris in recent weeks, as members of the “Gilets Jaunes” (Yellow Vest) movement have taken to the streets to protest French President Emmanuel Macron’s technocratic style of governance.
A perceptive examiner of his country’s various fault lines, Cantet has been on jury duty at the Marrakech Film Festival, which wraps up Saturday. When Variety sat down with Cantet to discuss past and future projects, we also asked about the protests that he seemed to foresee nearly two decades ago.
Situation - France
What do you make of the ongoing situation in France?
I feel that the government is completely deaf to the cries of the country. The government doesn’t want to consider the difficulties that people are living, or considers the issues with a lot of complexity. Whatever the case, the government’s arrogance toward the public is only going to exacerbate an already growing problem. There’s been a complete abandonment of the political process as we’ve come to know and understand it.
Plenty - Reasons - Street - Impression - Gilets
Still, while there are plenty of valid reasons to go out and protest in the street, I don’t get the impression that the “Gilets Jaunes” know exactly where their movement is going. That kind of improvisation can be beautiful, in a way, and maybe that’s the way we should look at the politics, to try things out and see if they work. But without any overall structure, the movement can go off in all directions, and we see now how it’s being co-opted by the extreme-right.
In your previous film, “The Workshop,” you specifically dealt with...
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