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The Monopoly of Violence

Journalist David Dufresne’s first theatrical feature is a devastatingly
timely investigation of the place of police in democracy and the
legitimacy of violence. Primarily composed of smartphone images
filmed at recent demonstrations in France, the film presents
a viscerally shocking picture of police brutality and protests
transformed into scenes of urban warfare. But Dufresne also
allows us a deeper engagement with what we see by confronting a
wide variety of participants in one-on-one conversations, a diverse
assortment which lends the film several levels, ranging from
cinéma-vérité to a meticulous examination of the nature of law
enforcement, where anger and cruelty aren’t supposed to interfere
in “the requirements of the particular circumstances”. Highly
methodical as it asks the question “who has the legitimacy to say
someone is violent?”, and it analyses the dangerous state of affairs
that emerges when “legality is erased by the suspicion of illegality”,
this compelling approach, intellectual yet never Manichean,
is further underpinned by powerful emotional components. A
shattering and intelligent documentary, The Monopoly of Violence
is nothing short of essential viewing, notably as it reminds us that
“democracy isn’t but dissensus” and that we should build bridges
rather than walls…

NYFF 2020