Also Known As Jihadi
Baudelaire’s latest film, Also known as Jihadi (2017) tells the story of a young French boy from Parisian suburbs and his assumed journey to the Al-Nusra front in Syria to join ISIS and fight Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Employing the cinematographic approach known as ‘landscape theory’ — or fûkeiron — developed out of Marxist film criticism in the 1970s where the landscape of a film is read as an expression of the political climate, thus becoming a significant character, motivation or reasoning for the films development. The 101-minute follows Abdel Aziz from the socially and politically rife milieu of the Parisian suburbs, weighted by division, segregation, development and poverty to, what the viewer assumes, Syria. Following landscape theory, the viewer does not see Aziz, rather his story is told through different landscapes, filmed in France, Spain, Algeria, and on the Syrian border in Turkey. The viewer is caught in a maelstrom of perceptions and realities, the aimlessness and alienation heavily felt in segregated communities, how society and the media define a terrorist or jihadist, and attempts to understand the motivations of the various evils experienced in our shared political condition. A grid of photocopied transcripts accompanies the film from Abdel Aziz trial that took place only weeks after the attack at the Bataclan in Paris in October 2015.