Inside a Charlie Hebdo Editorial Meeting

Posted on January 10, 2015

In 2006, documentary filmmakers Jerome Lambert and Philippe Picard made a film about the life of legendary French cartoonist Cabu called Cabu: Politiquement Incorrect. One of the scenes from the documentary shows a crucial editorial meeting at the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

At this meeting the editorial staff is discussing the cover of the magazine. The editors and cartoonists submit potential covers of the February 8, 2006 issue. The issue reprinted 12 cartoons which originally ran in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The cartoons were considered blasphemous by some, and 200 people died after protests and violence by radical Islamists.

The filmmakers said they had no idea that the meeting they captured on tape would prove to be so important. Three of the people shown in this clip -- Cabu, Bernard Verlhac (known as Tignous) and Georges Wolinski -- were murdered in the terrorist attacks this week. The gunnmen stormed this very room into an editorial meeting much like this one and massacred 12 people.

The film is in French but has English captions. It is absolutely fascinating to watch the style of the editorial meeting, the give and take and the eventual decision on the cover. In an opinion piece published in The New York Times, the filmmakers wrote, "In filming Cabu’s now historic meeting with his editor in chief and fellow cartoonists and editorialists, we could not know that we were capturing on camera such an important moment. We were just amazed by the collaborative, creative, joyful process that led to the cover and caption."

They note that Cabu used his talents to satirize everything and everyone, especially leaders who showed hypocrisy -- whether those leaders were corporate CEOs, politicians, bankers, or men of God. It's a fascinating clip which shows how the magazine and its talented, brave staff worked. Take a look: