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Also Known as Jihadi

Eric Baudelaire

France, Various, 2017
99 minutes, Colour, 5.1 surround, 16:9
Original format: HD video
Available formats: HD Digital file / DCP

Also Known As Jihadi (2017) follows the progress of a young man’s journey from France to Syria, and back to France where he is incarcerated for allegedly joining Daesh. Based on real events, and drawn from thousands of pages of judicial documents, the cinematic work employs the so-called landscape theory (fukeiron in Japanese). The theory originated in the film AKA Serial Killer (1969) that is codirected by Masao Adachi, who was the subject of an earlier film work of mine: The Anabasis of May and Fusako Shigenobu, Masao Adachi, and 27 Years without Images (2011). In Also Known As Jihadithis most recent film, the character’s paths to radicalism are rendered purely through a series of landscape shots filmed at the locations traversed by the subject: a biography determined not by what the subject did, but by what the subject saw, and one that questions how these landscapes reflect the social and political structures that are the backdrop for a journey of alienation and return. This new film builds on a link between some of my previous work and the events that are occurring with increasing frequency in many parts of the world. I started thinking about this film more than a year ago, before the events in Paris of November 13, 2015 and before those at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in January 2015. From this vantage point, I wanted to make a film that affirms the position of trying (not) to understand. Or, in the words of Pierre Zaoui, to make a film that “aims to understand and not to understand at the same time—to understand up to the point that one no longer understands—and also to show, refusing to understand or explain, so that with a dreadful feeling of confusion we are surprised to find ourselves understanding, discovering a subtle sympathy, telling ourselves that maybe monstrosity is our shared condition.”

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