What is Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves? At three hours, it’s easy to get caught up in the sprawl, so let’s stick to the facts. On the surface, it’s a speculative aftermath of the 2012 Quebec student protests. It’s an event that is largely unknown outside Quebec, the seven months through the spring and summer five years ago where around a quarter of a million students protested proposed fee hikes by the province’s Liberal Party. But what started as a fight to keep university accessible to all quickly became emblematic of wider frustrations with the government, including those about previous attempts for independence. Not helping was a law passed by the government that May, which required police approval for large public protests anywhere in Quebec, making the movement illegal. Student unions organised and protested on the streets and online, but with a tuition freeze announced that September, the movement died with the start of the new school year. Those Who Make the Revolution (titled Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n’ont fait que se creuser un tombeau in French), however, picks up four years later and focuses on a group of four individuals have created a radical splinter group away from the organised, goal-oriented student unions to fight at all costs. It’s not about the protests themselves, but instead questions what actions must be taken for there to be change. But the film is by no means a conventional drama: over its three hours it combines documentary footage, theatre, dance and a multitude of other styles in a violent, graphic, angering immersion. It’s sometimes didactic, anguished, anxiety inducing, and grotesque, but you can’t help but be absorbed and intrigued by something so devoid of convention.
I recently caught up with Hany Ouichou, the Toronto International Film Festival award winning and Canadian Screen Award nominated producer of the film. The film plays tomorrow, June 15, and Sunday, June 18 at the Sydney Film Festival. Here’s our conversation: