“The history of war is no less a history of the eye than a history of the weapon.” Like Gilles Deleuze in his reflections on cinema, it is this close relationship between war and cinema that War on Screen aims to explore and connect as closely as possible with the public.
Every war has its film. Since the early stages of cinema, much has been at stake in the representation of conflicts on our screens. This likening of the eye to the weapon is an invitation to debate. The assimilation becomes political when cinema in turn becomes a medium for propaganda or whistleblowing; historical, when screens shape a conflict’s place in history, partaking of our collective memory; and aesthetic, when battlefields become epic scenes.
In this first year of the festival, War on Screen has chosen to wield that most unstoppable weapon of all: laughter. It invites us to discover the full range of this emotion, with sight and viewfinder poised between laughter and tears in a collection of films where, from comedy to burlesque, humour both defuses and denounces a great number of conflicts. At a crossroads between genres and formats, between fiction and documentary, news reports, television series and video games, the representation of the major conflicts of our century—as well as those less well known—is revisited for the first time ever within a film festival setting. The Battle of Stalingrad, the October Crisis of 1970 in Quebec and the works of Robert Aldrich are three of the highlights at this unprecedented event.
The Champagne region, once the scene of a number of conflicts, now sets a new stage, a showcase for the depiction of wars on our screens. I would like to pay tribute to all of the organisers behind this initiative and wish this first edition of the festival all the success it deserves.
Wishing you all an excellent festival!
Minister of Culture and Communication