The documentary It’s Hard Being Loved By Jerks (C’est Dûr D’Etre Aimé Par Des Cons), which chronicles the 2005 trials between satirist publication Charlie Hebdo and the Muslim French Council, will now have a run in American theaters this spring. Kino Lorber, an international film distributor, has stepped forward and acquired the rights to the documentary, reportedly aiming to release it in U.S. colleges and libraries as well as major cities.
With the January 7th attack on Charlie Hebdo headquarters still fresh in the public’s memory, Kino Lorber’s Senior Vice President Elizabeth Sheldon states that the documentary, originally released in France in 2008, is a “catalyst for conversation.”
The film, directed by Daniel Leconte (writer of 2010’s Carlos), features interviews with many Hebdo cartoonists who were murdered in the January 7th shooting, as well as real-time footage of the legal and ideological conflict aroused when the publication re-printed Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad in 2005. The movie observes the consequences and conversations swirling around the issue.
Below is a French trailer for It’s Hard, without subtitles:
Although a version of the trailer is not available with an English dub or subtitle, Kino Lorber seeks to educate and spark a debate in the American public regarding “democratic ideals” such as freedom of speech. Says Sheldon:
This documentary elucidates the innate conflict between the French ideal of liberty and the fundamentalist rejection of freedom of expression if it is deemed sacrilegious… [We want it] to inspire community discussion regarding freedom of the press, religious fundamentalism and the escalating confrontation between radical Islam and the West over democratic ideals.”
The court case, which took place in 2007, put Charlie Hebdo under the magnifying glass for what French Muslim organizations described as “public insults against a group of people because they belong to a religion.” The crowning caricature, used as the cover photo for the French magazine (as well as inspiration for Leconte’s documentary title), depicted Mohammad holding his face in his hands and saying, “It’s hard to be loved by idiots.”
Kino Lorber does not seem discouraged by the idea of some rejection among U.S. exhibitors, quoting in an exclusive with Variety that “as a distributor, freedom of speech concerns me at first range and today it is more important to keep defending those ideas. More than ever”.
It’s Hard Being Loved By Jerks was re-released in France on January 22nd of this year, and still continues to run in a handful of French theaters. All French ticket sales are reportedly being donated to Charlie Hebdo.