Un Francais: Screenings of French skinhead film cancelled due to fear of 'revenge' attacks on cinemas and 'threats to director and cast'

However, several film critics and commentators have dismissed the claims as an attempt to hype a low-budget, low-quality movie

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The Independent Culture

If you believe the advance publicity, France faces social unrest, even violence, when a movie about the nation’s skinhead movement is shown next week.

The director claims that 48 advance showings have been cancelled for fear of skinhead “revenge” attacks on cinemas. The lead actor says he and the director have received threats from far-right groups that watched the trailer online and did not like what they saw. Several film critics and commentators have dismissed the claims as an attempt to hype, or create what the French call “le buzz” around a low-budget, low-quality movie.

The film, Un Francais (A Frenchman), recreates scenes of racial violence by French skinheads in the 1980s and 1990s and tells the story of a skinhead who repents.

Vincent Malausa, of the magazine Le Nouvel Observateur, watched the trailer and was unimpressed. “With its minuscule budget and actors reading out tirades as if they were in a student play, this alleged bombshell looks rather innocent to me,” Mr Maulausa said.


Le Monde found no trace of the “campaign of hatred and aggression” supposedly provoked by the film on social media. The newspaper did find scores of tweets and messages from people angrily supporting the director after he announced that 50 cinemas had cancelled  showings for fear of skinhead attacks. One person complained that the “fear of fascism” had become “a gangrene on French culture”. A search by Le Monde found only one comment attacking the film – an anonymous posting on the website of the ultra-right-wing polemicist, Alain Soral. This message complained that the movie “stigmatised the patriotic white, pure French proletariat”.

The director and writer of the film, Patrick Asté, who prefers to go by the artistic name “Diastème”, insisted that he had been promised 50 advance showings in cinemas all over France. He said they had been cancelled except for  two screenings, in Toulon and Lille earlier this week (which passed without incident). The independent distributor, Mars films, said more cautiously that it had “offered” advance showings to 50 cinemas and that all but two of them had refused. The movie will be shown in 40 cinemas when it starts its official run next Wednesday.

The actor Alban Lenoir, who plays the main character in the film, said that he and the director have been “receiving threats for some time”. He said: “We don’t pay any attention. The only thing that scares us is stupidity. This film is not attacking all French men it is about one Frenchman among 65 million… I thought the film might run into trouble and some cinemas would refuse it for fear of reprisals but I expected nothing on this scale.”

Mr Asté rejected the suggestion that he had sought to foment controversy for commercial reasons. “I’ve been in the business for 28 years,” he said. “If I had any talent for marketing, it would have been apparent a long time ago.” Mr Asté, who is also a playwright and theatre director, has made four other films without notable critical or commercial success.