Omar Blondin Diop was an activist philosophy student in Nanterre, France, when in 1967 he played himself in Jean-Luc Godard’s La chinoise. His appearance in that film provides the only moving images of Diop in this intellectually stimulating portrait of a man striving for a permanent state of revolution in a tumultuous time that was teeming with political movements.
Diop’s friends and brothers—filmed in profile and in minimal, painterly light—recall his deep involvement in the student protests of May 1968 and his resistance in Senegal against the French-backed regime of Léopold Sédar Senghor. Interspersing the interviews with archive footage and fragments from La chinoise creates a complex construction of multilayered imagery. This is, then, also a film about the stylistic components used to tell a story—in this case the story of someone who can no longer tell it himself, because Diop died in 1973 in a Senegalese prison.
Ultimately, Just a Movement doesn’t so much explain who Omar Blondin Diop was as much as present the ways in which he lives on: in the stories and memories of his brothers, in Godard’s film, and in today’s youth movements in Senegal.