Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Perpignan's Photojournalism Festival: Il ne faut surtout pas en douter…

This year, the photos concern Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya, and we are faced with a petty squabble
says Jean-François Leroy, the director of the Visa pour l'image photojournalism festival (this year's invité d'honneur is the American photographer David Burnett, with exhibits devoted to the photos of Jonas Bendikson, Alexandra Boulat, and a Parisian collective), as he complains about the loss of subsidies.

A year ago, No Pasarán pointed out the bias and the lack of objectivity inherent in the festival (which has nothing to do with its financial difficulties, by the way, the latter being the result of opposing parties at the levels of the Perpignan town hall and of the surrounding region) and debunking the director's matter-of-fact, pseudo-objective declarations to the press.

A visit to Perpignan confirmed our worst suspicions (notice the difference — scroll to bottom of link — in the treatment of American and French military interventions abroad). It also led to an examinition of the extent that French festivals in general highlight America-bashing.

As always, the language is telling; how stories involving America are filled with overbearing scorn, smug-filled mockery, and haughty disgust; while tragedies elsewhere (i.e., that do not involve Uncle Sam, America's allies, and/or capitalists in general) — even those involving bloodthirsty dictators — are presented at best as hand-wringing tragedies beyond anybody's control.

(Here is another example of an enormous and unbelievable miscarriage of justice, due — needless to say — to the "senseless act of violence" perpetrated by an "unrepentant, brutish killer" in the U.S. army; in this case, it is not part of a government-sponsored festival but a government-funded TV station [the German government, in this case] which highlights the "callous brute" and "his idiot father who is obviously unable to tell right from wrong" — both of them presented as typical Americans.)

From this year's Perpignan harvest (which, among other "burning questions", includes the seminar "Is photojournalism a political act?"), there is Jérome Sessini, Lynsey Addario, and

Paul Fusco, one of the greatest and most prolific photographers of his generation, [who] has tackled a subject that is taboo: burials of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. Here is a social issue so many would like to hide away, never to be mentioned lest it undermine the morale of the American people. The harsh truth seen in the photos proves (did anyone ever think otherwise [fallait-il en douter] ?) that military victims do not come from wealthy families.
Thank goodness the French authorities have — once again — alerted the world (and Americans themselves!) to the danger of treacherous Americans ("a social issue so many would like to hide away"), to the need for a teaching program for blinded Americans ("Taboo, never to be mentioned, the harsh truth seen in the photos"), and to the existence of simpleton Americans (everyone not aware of the above and who ever was so silly as to think "otherwise").

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