Seberg Against All is a 2020 drama film starring Kristen Stewart who just arrived at Netflix and it’s been a big hit, mainly because it’s based on facts.
In the film, in Paris, 1968, the actress Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) is at the height of its popularity, thanks to the success of several films shot in France.
Upon arriving in the United States, she soon becomes involved with civil rights activist Hakim Jamal (Anthony Mackie), which he met during the flight. Jean soon takes a stand for the Black Panthers and becomes one of the movement’s backers, while maintaining an affair with Hakim.
Such a situation is closely monitored by the FBI, which maintained a surveillance program to break through and expose the Black Panthers. Among the agents assigned to spy on her is Jack Solomon (Jack O’Connell), who begins to rebel when the FBI launches a defamation plan against the actress.
The film is very successful and because it is a very engaging story, many were wondering if Seberg was based on real events.
Seberg is based on a true story?
The answer is yes. Seberg Against All is based on a true story.
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Jean Seberg, is perhaps one of the most iconic actresses of all time. She incorporated the French movement new wavea defining moment for modern cinema.
Furthermore, she was perhaps the first socially conscious actress of her time who tried to make a difference outside of the film world. How she actively supported the civil rights movement in America and ultimately faced its aftermath.
The film Seberg Against All is based on the final years of the actress’ life, her involvement in and support of the Black Panther movement in the 1960s, and how she became the prime target of the FBI’s illegal COINTELPRO movement, which ended up wiping out her sanity and her life.
Who was Jean Seberg?
Jean Sebergwas a French New Wave icon, who gained fame with his performances in Hollywood and French films, but his most notable performance was in breathlessthe film that immortalized her and paved the way for modern cinema as we know it.
Seberg was born in Marshalltown, Iowa, in 1938, and went on to do theater and acting in college. She was passionate about activism from a young age and joined the NAACP at age 14.
In 1957, she made her film debut with Saint Joanby Otto Preminger, where she played the lead role, after being selected by Preminger from over 18,000 girls.
The most iconic scene in the film has Seberg like Saint Joan, being burned at the stake. The scene was recreated in the movie, and it becomes the opening scene.
Jean Seberg then made another film with Preminger, Bonjour Sadnessbut it was in breathless that made it an international success, and made the film critic and director François Truffaut called her “the best actress in Europe”.
In the late 1960s, she moved to Hollywood and by this time was married to her second husband, Romain Gairy (played by Yvan Attal in the film), French novelist, director and aviator, with whom he had a son, Alexandre Diego Gary.
This is also the moment she met the African-American activist Hakim Jamaland began actively supporting the Black Panthers.
Seberg’s involvement with the Black Panthers
Seberg was one of many actors who were involved with the Civil Rights movement in America. She was particularly supportive of the Black Panthers.
The Black Panther Party it was a revolutionary political organization that fought for the civil rights of blacks. According to a friend of Sebergthe rabbi Sol Serber, “she had this need to make the world a better place”.
Seberg was attracted to the Panthers because of the Free Breakfast for Kids program and began making donations to the party, actively supporting the cause.
She also organized a fundraiser in 1969 for the Black Panther party at her home. Hakim Jamalplayed by Anthony Mackie in the film, was one of the movement’s leading activists, and Seberg would have had a brief affair with him. Although the film portrays Hakem and Seberg as lovers, this has never been proved.
Becoming an FBI Target
The film Seberg Against All revolves around the FBI agent, Jack Solomonplayed by Jack O’Connellinvestigating the connections of Seberg with the Black Panthers, eventually defaming his image in the public.
But Solomon eventually realizes the FBI’s mistake and tries to correct it by warning Seberg. The real story is even more horrible. The 1960s was also the time when the FBI was being led by the controversial and infamous J. Edgar Hoover, who introduced COINTELPRO, short for “Counterintelligence Program”, to disrupt and bring down domestic political organizations.
COINTELPRO included a number of illegal and unethical programs aimed at surveillance and infiltration to disrupt and “neutralize” the left, including subversive individuals and groups, from communists to feminists and civil rights activists.
This also included psychological warfare to discredit groups and individuals through harassment, forging documents, and spreading false information in the media.
Hoover believed the Black Panthers were a threat, and COINTELPRO began targeting them from 1969 onwards. Seberg with the Party put her on the radar of the FBI, which immediately began illegally tapping her phone calls.
She was also persecuted and had her home under constant surveillance. But things got a lot darker when the FBI planted a rumor in the press alleging that the son Seberg was hoping would be from a Black Panther activist, not her then-husband, Gairy.
The rumors were picked up by Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times and published. that left Seberg distraught, giving birth prematurely to her daughter, Nina, who died two days later.
Seberg debunked the rumors by holding an open casket funeral for Nina, where people came to see the child’s color. She never recovered from the trauma caused by this entire incident, and fell deeply into depression, and eventually took her own life.
In 1979, Seberg disappeared for 10 days before she was found dead in the back of her car, wrapped in a blanket, along with a note to her daughter.
Although it was not completely proven, the police considered it probable suicide. Roman Gairyher ex-husband, called a press conference after her death and blamed the FBI for it as her mental health deteriorated because of her actions, which is true.
The story of the short and tragic life of Jean Seberg it is terrifying and deeply distressing. More so because in many ways it parallels current times, with far-right extremism and the way AI can be used to exploit people.
The film Seberg Against All so it’s a step in the right direction. Kristen Stewart catch Seberg brilliantly, both at its best and at its worst.
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