Thursday, June 11

Zim and Co.

It's French Spring in Manila once more, and the 14th edition of the French Film Festival offers a selection of movies that gives us a glimpse of a France that's more than just croissants on the Rue Montparnasse.

Last Monday, I caught the evening screening of Zim and Co, which features Adrien Jolivet as Victor Zimbietrofsky, a twenty-something guy who gets a little high, spends the night playing a gig for the deaf, goes to the markets to help move boxes, gets paid, and early in the morning, his motorbike skids past a car driven by a middle-aged man.

There's a dent on the car but this man thinks it's a grave injustice. Our guy Zim gets called for it, and the judge looks in his record and finds a previous offence, which now makes Zim a two-time offender and sent to jail immediately. Unless, the deal goes, Zim can find a job that gives him a payslip (taxes for the government, yey) before the end of the month.

Zim isn't a lazy ass. He scours the ads and manages to find a job which requires a car and a driver's license, both of which he doesn't have. But Zim is a resourceful young man and enlists the help of his friends. There's Arthur, whose dad wants him to succeed in the trade of bodyworking cars and thus earn pension later on. There's Cheb, who wants to invent the next best thing to sliced bread, or at least find your mobile phone when it's ringing. There's Safia, a Muslim girl who works in her uncle's canteen.

All the young people in Pierre Jolivet's Paris are street-smart and willing to help each other get better, even through ingenuous means. They need to survive by their wits, as the system isn't exactly friendly to a young Africans, Muslims and Polish immigrants. Zim is the only white guy, and he slightly benefits from this system--after all, the bureau needs to meet the quota of having enough white guys driving in the streets. In a world like this, where people are out to rip you off, where your family doesn't quite understand why you'd quit a boring factory job, where a small mistake can cost you your future, friendship is really the only thing going for you. (The movie also reminds me a lot of the Cinemalaya film Endo.)

Director Pierre Jolivet has this to say: “At twenty most youngsters create distance between themselves and their family and find the substitution in their peers. It’s the beginning of fears yet a feeling of being indestructible. It is this battle of contrasts that we tried to portray”.

The French Film Festival is ongoing until June 14 at the Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Cinema 3. Entrance is free. Tickets are handed out two hours before the screening.

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