For his fourth film, JO, Cameron Jamie unfolds a three-part investigation of the precarious line that separates nationalism, patriotism, and bigotry. Beginning in Orléans, France, he recorded a series of events organized in conjunction with the annual celebration of the feast day of Saint Joan of Arc. On the second Sunday in May, a teenage girl dressed in armor rides through the streets on horseback in celebration of the female warrior’s great feats in battle and in commemoration of her martyrdom at the hands of the English. Joan of Arc, one of the most popular saints of the Roman Catholic Church, has also been a military and political symbol of French national pride since the time of Napoleon.
Most recently, the Maid of Orléans has been proclaimed the patron saint of the right-wing party Front National led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has become known for his excessive national pride, conservatism, and xenophobia. The second chapter of the film spotlights the FN’s homage to this heroine, with Le Pen and other politicians placing flowers at a golden Joan of Arc statue.
JO concludes with another annual celebration, no less patriotic: the Fourth of July Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, New York, at which Japanese champion Takeru Kobayashi breaks his own record by eating 53.5 hot dogs in 12 minutes. Through this collage of extreme systems of identification, Jamie exposes the grotesque side of nationalism.