Cabu, politiquement incorrect! In honour of Chalie Hebdo

Nine years ago, French film-makers Philippe Picard and Jérome Lambert shot a documentary about Jean Cabut ‘Cabu’, one of the most famous cartoonists in France. Most of this artist’s super productive career took place in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo – and its prequel Hara Kiri.

This year, Cabu was one of the twelve people killed in the January 7th Islamic terrorist attack to the Charlie Hebdo newsroom in Paris. The 2015 International Journalism Festival has reproduced this film, called Cabu, politiquement incorrect!, to commemorate the victims. The two directors joined the screening and its posterior debate, moderated by Luca Bottura, Italian journalist of Lateral Radio Capital.

As Philippe Picard said in the introduction, “this film seems now to be almost prehistoric”. And the truth is that in 2006 none of the directors would have imagined nothing similar to this terrible attack.

They shot the film in the same year in which Charlie Hebdo decided to re-publish the Muhammad’s cartoon, by the Danish newspaper Jilland-Posten, that was deemed blasphemous. “It took several years for the Islamic response to Charlie Hebdo to reach this point,” said Jérome Lambert.

They perfectly knew when they did the documentary that Cabu was a controversial cartoonist, in fact, its “political incorrection” gives the title to the film. “The laws were his only limitations, but beyond that there were no bans,” said Picard.

Cabu, as is reflected in the film, attacked in all directions. He was openly anti-militarism and anti-clerical, including here all religions.

However, Lambert explained that Cabu and others workers in Charlie Hebdo were very upset in those days with the critics that portrayed them as anti-Muslims. “They were not trying to offend, but making fun of certain situations”, he said. And he added hoe necessary was the contect to understand Cabu’s cartoons.

In the debate after the screening Luca Bottura tried to compare the reality of the freedom of speech in France and in Italy. In his opinion, it is far wider in the former country, and the satirical publications are there more powerful. However, neither he nor the film-makers were able to reach a firm opinion on which should be the limit to this kind of harsh publications.

If they agreed in something after watching the film, is was that Cabu was one of the greatest French cartoonists. “He was so good, he was just incomparable,” said Jérome Lambert.

“It’s difficult to guess how would have been the memory of Cabu if he did not unfortunately died in the attack,” said Philippe Picard. “But it is undeniable that Charlie Hebdo and Hara Kiri meant something very important in the history of France”.

Teresa López