A screening of À bientôt, j’espère by Chris Marker and Mario Marret at the Palente funtion hall, April 27, 1968
No paper will be pre-circulated.
Refreshments will be provided.
We hope to see you there!
Yours in Mass Cult,
Panpan and Jenisha
L’Entraînement mental: The Medvedkin Groups and Popular Education
This paper will examine the influence of the French popular education organization Peuple et Culture on the work of the Medvedkin Groups, the filmmaking collectives made up largely of factory workers from French industrial towns who completed nearly a dozen films between 1968 and 1974. Recent studies have focused on situating their films within the context of contemporary experiments in agit-prop and collective filmmaking; while this synchronic approach has helped to understand the Medvedkin Groups’ place within the events and legacies of 1968, it confines the discussion of the films’ formal strategies to comparisons with those of filmmakers such as Chris Marker, Rene Vautier, and Jean-Luc Godard. What has so far been neglected are the Medvedkin Groups’ roots in post-war struggles for working-class culture and popular education.
Peuple et Culture had formed in the wake of the Liberation to militate on behalf of a more egalitarian society through improvement of worker’s access to cultural and intellectual life. Its activities were informed by a pedagogical technique called “entraînement mental”, a combination of Bergsonian theories of memory with Henri Lefebvre’s attention to the textures of everyday experience. Peuple et Culture played a direct role in establishing the Centre culturel populaire de Palente-les-Orchamps (CCPPO) in Besançon, from whose volunteer staff and facilities the first Medvedkine Group would emerge. Through an examination of proto-cinematic media productions of the CCPPO, I will consider the ways entraînment mental has been manifested, not only as a pedagogical tool for training militant artists and filmmakers, but as an aesthetic strategy for creating militant audiences.
Sean Batton is a PhD student in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.
Matt Hubbell is a Ph.D. candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago.