‘Cartoonists, Foot Soldiers of Democracy’ looks at the work of political cartoonists, mainly through the eyes of Plantu, who works for France’s Le Monde newspaper.
The film’s French director Stephanie Valloatto explained the thinking behind it: “The idea was to show the state of democracy and freedom of expression around the world and we chose cartoonists from each continent, and themes including economics, politics, and religion to make links between them.”
Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard also appears in the movie. Having survived several murder attempts as a result of drawing cartoons of Muhammed, he knows exactly how dangerous the profession can be.
Another featured cartoonist is Tunisian Nadia Khiari, whose pen name is Willis. Her work mainly denounces people who have stemmed the revolutionary tide in Tunisia for religious reason or because of their support for the reigning patriarchy.
A devotion to the cartoon can have a major negative impact. Russian Mikhail Zlatkovsy, who appears in the film, has been banned from publishing his work since the Brezhnev era. Now, he works nights as a taxi driver.
Israeli cartoonist Michel Kichka has won many awards for his work and explained that the work was not merely about poking fun at politicians: “It’s more like undressing them, to show them naked. To show the naked truth the way I perceive it, the way I feel it and understand it. Because in a cartoon, you make your point, this is your point of view, this your opinion.”
Twelve cartoonists from 12 different countries, all of them facing personal risks for expressing their opinions. ‘Cartoonists: Foot Soldiers of Democracy’ is on screens now in France.