Berlinale presents a case study of crisis and impoverishment.

Dieter Wieczorek
Wieczorek is a film critic and regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: February 22, 2017

Combat Au Bout De La Nuit

Sylvain L’Espérance

Canada (Québec). 2016, 285 min.

One of the main problems with a democratic system is that the ongoing public political discussion is based not on the importance of facts, but on their veracity. The media undermines a culture of context, history and conscious development. Today, Greece’s plight no longer appears in international news coverages despite the country’s precarious situation. An economic collapse is a realistic prospect if money is not injected into the country. Furthermore, political demands to reduce Greece’s debts are few and far between. In this nebulous context, Sylvain L’Espérance’s long-term observational documentary, Combat au bout de la nuit (Fighting through the Night) offers a clear portrayal of a complicated reality.

L’Espérance’s film observes the lives of men and women, all of them archetypes of Greece’s reality today. Importance is given to their statements as well as the need to capture, in long takes, their individual feelings, expressions and gestures. The director takes his time, 285 minutes to be precise, to chip away at the surface. He follows political refugees, illegal immigrants, dockworkers, protesters and highly committed citizens. In addition to the harsh, social context, he captures sources of resistance and survival. His camera follows the flight of a seagull at dawn accompanied by the songs (not slogans) of labourers. He gives space to poetic recitals from the off, as for a YouTube capture of a grotesque parliamentary law making process in the presence of only three people, two of them silent and one protesting.

Alexandra Pavlou works in a social clinic in Athens. Following the collapse of the country’s health system, her and a few colleagues provide basic medical and psychological care made possible through donations of expired medication. She resumes some key facts: A 900 percent tax increase over a three-year period, minimum income cut in half, confiscation and sale of flats and houses whose owners have debts, even if only of 500 Euros. People are being pushed out onto the streets. They are disoriented, humiliated, frustrated and fearful of what the future has in store. Above all, they are full of hate for ‘the system’.

This is a ripe time for fascist preaching, promising the ‘Golden Dawn’, a complete …

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