A more fitting film for our electoral moment is hard to imagine than Chris Marker’s Chats perchés (The Case of the Grinning Cat). The film has the serendipitous timing that is the hallmark of great art: it is always relevant, and au courant — sometimes painfully so.
The opening shot in Brûle la mer of roiling storm-tossed seas moving in perpetual motion sets the tone for the cinepoem to come. Elegantly constructed, the film employs the age-old device of someone telling you a story. In this case, the narrative is that of young Tunisian refugees (some 25,000) including Maki and his two brothers, who fled their country after the 2011 Jasmine Revolution.
Without preamble, Ambulance opens on a community in panic. A bomb has just fallen, turning the home of filmmaker Mohamed Jabaly’s neighbour into a pile of rubble. So begins a close-up view of war that barely gives us time to catch our breath, let alone consider the broader context.