Reel Politics: The Films of Jean-Gabriel Périot


Jean-Gabriel Périot is an agitator: his short films confront and comment on current politics, historical events like WWII and Hiroshima, and socio-economic issues, including unemployment and gay rights.

While not exactly documentaries, the films use archival footage and images from the news. Périot edits the images together to create a story-montage, but it’s still up to the viewer to draw her own conclusions about the ultimate meaning.

Despite this, Périot’s voice and intent comes through clearly: he wants a reaction from the viewer.

His latest work, The Barbarians (2010), begins with a slow montage of photo-op portraits of world leaders and other public figures, the kind of static images we’re used to seeing after a summit or conference. One image replaces the other, then adding in another layer to include ordinary citizens, shots from weddings and school events. It speeds up until you can’t quite keep up with each image.

Eventually the images slow down, to reveal the individual, in action, striking against society and its structures: police, buildings, vehicles.

The questions arise: how do I feel about the demonstrators? What is the connection between the group and the individual?


The Activist Writer, 2013