Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves

Ceux qui font les révolutions à moitié n'ont fait que se creuser un tombeau

Director: Mathieu Denis & Simon Lavoie
2016 | Canada | 183m
GENRE: Activism | Bisexual | Drama | Experimental | Gay | Immigration/Exile | Lesbian | Music/Music Videos | Politics | Queer | Sexuality | Sexually Explicit | Theatre/Performance Art | Transgender | Violence
SECTION: World Cinema


“People do not see yet they are miserable. We will show them.” This bold provocation, emblazoned on a slate of billboard advertisements at the onset of Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves, proclaims the riotous intent of the film’s four twentysomething leads. This scene of vandalism, which follows five opening minutes of black film leader, also announces the audacious agitprop vision of directors Mathieu Denis (Corbo) and Simon Lavoie (Le Torrent). Searingly radical in both content and form — with an inventive mix of documentary and drama, experimental tableaux, and even a mock intermission — Those lives up to the incendiary grandeur of its epic title.

A fictionalized rendering of the aftermath of the 2012 “Maple Spring” student protests in Quebec, Those envisions the activist exploits of a hardcore splinter cell, operating under the aliases Klas Batalo (Gabrielle Tremblay), Ordinne Nuovo (Emmanuelle Lussier-Martinez), Tumulto (Laurent Belanger), and Guitizia (Charlotte Aubin) — with a special nod to Tremblay, who has the distinction of being the first transwoman nominated for an acting award at the Canadian Screen Awards (a predecessor to the Genies). Living collectively, the foursome plot their assault on an anesthetized mainstream, occasionally catapulting rhetoric into action via anthrax hoaxes, public defacement, and makeshift explosives. But as time progresses, their message appears to be lost on the masses.

Winner of the Best Canadian Feature prize at TIFF, Those bristles — from leader to credits — with sociopolitical savvy and artistic ambition. It is fiery fodder for those of us still reeling from the political realities of 2017.


This film contains scenes depicting sexual violence.

  • Language: In French with English subtitles
  • Premiere Status: Bay Area