Jean Birnbaum explores the transmission of revolutionary ideals from one generation to the next. The model chosen by Birnbaum to study the mechanism of such legacies is that of the Trotskyite movement: a singular tradition that maintained, throughout the twentieth century, the marginal but obstinate presence of its ideals of emancipation.
Based on in-depth discussions with militants, old and young, famous or unknown, Birnbaum’s documentary offers forceful descriptions of remarkable people and their destinies, but he also tracks down the traces of disillusionment and inner fissures: where the Jewish question or sectarian currents are concerned for instance. Yet, out of this lucid assessment and from the depth of these testimonies, emerge the aspirations that carried a whole "generation", looking forward, beyond the present, for an era of justice to come.
A journalist for Le Monde, Jean Birnbaum also worked for France Culture, where he collaborated for the Staccato show, before directing, amongst others, a series of documentaries on French Trotskists. He also published Apprendre à vivre enfin, a discussion with Jacques Derrida just before the philosopher’s death (Galilée/Le Monde, 2005).