The first episode in a series by The Cinema Committee which looks at La ZAD, or the Zone to Defend, in France.
In the early morning of Monday, April 9, 2018, the current invasion of the ZAD began. This land-occupation near the village of Notre-Dames-des-Landes is still under siege after nine days of tear gas, concussion grenades, drones, clubs, tanks, and attack dogs. Like the famous French children’s song, the imperial assault began on a “Lundi matin” and continued every day of the week until the following Monday when it started all over again. This is now the second week of the siege.
In the original lyrics of the children’s song, the emperor, the empress, and the prince come to put “you” in a pinch every day of the week but luckily “you” are never there. The emperor of this little song was based on Napoleon III, the disease-ridden tyrant who ruled over France until his disastrous war with Prussia. Thanks to his idiocy and egotism, the city of Paris was surrounded by the invading army and within a year the autonomous Commune had forced the Republican government to flee the city. The current situation is much different than it was in 1871 and hopefully it ends with victory rather than bloodshed. In no uncertain terms, what is being fought for at the ZAD is the earth itself. Unlike the Paris Commune with its delusions about the citizen, the state school, money, and government, this epic battle in the hedgerows is being fought to free the land from the capitalist economy, not compromise with it.
Our own personal time in the ZAD was far too brief and yet long enough to linger in our minds forever. Like those who’ve visited Chiapas or Rojava, the ZAD is one of the few places on the planet where capitalist time and its market relations have been abolished. Living a communal life free from economic constraints is a visceral experience that makes even the longest work-vacation seem like a sick joke. Nothing is more infectious and viral than the experience of a life worth living. It’s powerful enough that thousands of people have spent the past week fighting for it on the moorland of Notres-Dames-des-Landes where there have been over 100 serious injuries.
On this Wednesday, April 18, three representatives of the ZAD met with the French state and reasserted their demand that the entire zone be held in common by the inhabitants. As could be expected, the state refused this demand once again and insisted that each parcel must be individually claimed by a private owner no later than April 23. Should the inhabitants of the ZAD refuse to sign their names on these individuals contracts, the French state will order another round of evictions and destroy the remaining 70 structures. This cannot be allowed to happen.
To help spread awareness of this beautiful zone, we are releasing a series of videos that document this battle to save the ZAD. Each one is formatted as a self-contained episode and will cover the various aspects of this struggle. They are meant to be circulated across North America and will be released until the siege has been broken. This first episode covers the first two days of the eviction and weaves together footage from a variety of sources. As could be expected, the mainstream media outside of France is hardly covering this historic event and it’s up to us to disseminate news of the ZAD. We wish everyone good luck between the hedgerows and hope you all stay free. Keep up the good fight and know we are all with you across the ocean. Let’s bring the ZAD back home!
With love and affection,
-The Cinema Committee