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By Giovanni Vimercati

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Nonfiction Pick

Chronicle of a Summer

Paris, summer of ’60: Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin set out to document the lives, expectations, and disappointments of a diverse group of Parisians. Away from the capital’s landmarks, the two immerse themselves in the ordinary lives of workers, family men, students, immigrants, and, albeit briefly, children. A woman armed with a microphone asks passersby the plainly provocative question: “Are you happy?” In this way, through Rouch and Morin’s viewpoint, the viewer becomes engaged with the daily tribulations, humble joys, and discontents of men and women leading completely different lives within the same city, thus offering multiple perspectives on French society. Everyday preoccupations are discussed alongside broader social issues (the taboo subject of the Algerian War makes a brief appearance amidst widespread unease and disagreement). The film ends with all the “protagonists” gathered together in a screening room being asked by the directors to share their thoughts on the film. Highly recommended, not least to Michael Moore and his ilk.

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