Crack 6T (Ma 6-T va crack-er, France, 1997)

Revolutionary ‘La Haine’

This was my final film in the Myfrenchfilmfestival festival and an outlier as it isn’t contemporary. Its subject matter, however, remains vital: young peope living in poverty in the banlieues of Paris. Co-writer (with Arco Descat C. who also starred) and director Jean-François Richet’s film came out two year’s after the seminal La Haine (France), which is about to be re-released, and is even more incendiary. At La Haine‘s Cannes screening the police turned their backs on the filmmakers in protest, however Richet’s call to arms is more direct: the film’s bookended by a young woman (not a character) seen above toting firearms with calls for revolution on the soundtrack. As both films show, such a conclusion is entirely reasonable as the underclass are downtrodden by society and kept in their (shitty) place by the police.

I haven’t found much written about the film but as most of the actors are playing characters with the same names as themselves, and the film is their only credit, they are non-professionals and the narrative is wrenched from the streets with an authenticity that’s matched by the handheld camera (cinematography by Valérie Le Gurun) and editing (Richet). Some of the cast are professionals: the schoolteacher, for instance, whose difficulty in dealing with delinquents is superbly realised, is played by Joanna Pavlis.

While the film doesn’t aspire to the mythological heights of La Haine it is, in some ways, more effective than its feted ‘brother’. The charisma of Vincent Cassel, for instance, roots the earlier film in fiction whereas Crack 6T has a more documentary feel. The latter film, by the way, is better at representing women who are mostly absent in both films. In a scene where one of the protagonists tries to chat up a friend from school she determinedly rejects him by pointing out that he has nothing to offer her because of his ‘gangsta’ lifestyle; she knows that simply ‘not fancying’ him would not be enough to stop him bothering her.

Hip hop music is important and the ‘girl with a gun’ framing shots are a music video ‘call to arms’. Richet went on to do the remake of Assault on Precinct 13 (France-US, 2005) and the two Mesrine films (L’instinct de mort and L’ennemi public n°1, France-Canada-Italy, 2008).

Most of the films I saw in the festival were enjoyable; the winner of the Jury Award was School’s Out (which I had already seen) but I thought Escape from Raqqa was the best on show though I wouldn’t argue with the Audience and International Press awards to The Swallows of KabulMeteorites got a Special Mention, no doubt for Zéa Duprez’s sensational performance.

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