Just days before its general release in France and Un Français, the film directed by Patrick Asté aka Diastème, has sparked a row over its violent content and depiction of the far-right movement in France with the director and lead actor claiming they have received threats from extremist groups. Dubbed France’s answer to Tony Kaye’s American History X, the film traces the 30 year path of a young skinhead as he renounces the violence of his youth to start a new life. Diastème says 48 of the 50 advanced screenings of the film have been cancelled and only 60 out of 100 copies will be in selected cinemas around the country on 10 June after distributors claim they are ‘afraid’ to screen the film.
Un Français is based on real events and alongside the story of Marco, it plots the history of the extreme right in France from the first clashes between punks and skinheads in 1984 to the death of Morrocan Brahim Bouarram who was drowned in the River Seine in 1998 after a beating by a Front National member, by way of former FN leader Jean-Marie Le Pen’s presidential bid in 1988. Diastème has defended the film on his blog saying it is the story of a man who rids himself of violence and the hate he carried around. “It’s a film about peace. It’s a cinematic story. And what I’ve been getting for a few weeks now is violence and hate, that’s not cinema.”
Alban Lenoir who plays Marco also stood up for the film saying he was surprised by how much controversy it’s caused: “We don’t pay any attention. The only thing that scares us is stupidity. This film is not attacking all French men it is about one Frenchman among 65 million. I thought the film might run into trouble and some cinemas would refuse it for fear of reprisals but I expected nothing on this scale.”
The film’s Independent distributor, Mars Films, denies a hate campaign on social media was the reason behind the number of cinemas which have pulled out of showing the film. The company claims cinemas were asked to hold a debate after the screening of the film and some felt it would be too difficult to organise the necessary security measures.
Diastème is also a playwright and theatre director, has made four other films.