Last September at RogerEbert.com, Soren Hough interviewed Swiss director Cyril Schäublin about his new film, Unrest, which was then in the New York Film Festival. Unrest is about a mountain community of anarchist watchmakers in the 19th century. It sounds fascinating, both for its content, but also for how it was developed and produced, in an exceptionally decentralized, collaborative, mutual aid-inspired mode inspired by its cast of predominately non-actors, but also by the ideas of one of its characters, the Russian anarcho-communist Peter Kropotkin.
SH: It sounds like your natural aesthetic instinct tied well into this particular story where you, as you say, have this big name in “Unrest”—Peter Kropotkin. He’s not in a huge amount of the movie, he doesn’t have that many lines, he’s not a central character, and it’s certainly not a biopic.
CS: The guy who acts as Kropotkin (Alexei Evstratov) is a very avid Kropotkin guy. I mean, he’s really into him. And he said to me at the end, “I didn’t say that much!” But he told me the way we were doing the film, and how the film was organized, and how we talked to each other, he felt [it took a] mutual aid approach. That was really interesting for me.
Schäublin talks, too, about the desire to understand and depict the experiences of the women in his family, his ancestors, who worked in watch factories, but also the difficulties in doing so, especially for 19th century people:
it’s much easier to reconstruct male biographies [from the 19th century] than female biographies. I thought, “What can I show of women, like the women in my family who did that work?” The only thing we can reconstruct is their work. People today that go to watchmaking schools still learn how to build a watch from the 19th century—that’s the start of the school. So you can reconstruct the manual labor, but not the biographies—what we call biographies.
Fight the Power: Cyril Schäublin on Unrest [rogerebert via geraldine juarez]
Cyril Schäublin’s website [cyrilschaublin.com]