France, 114 min
Just like François Maspero at the end of the 1980s, Alice Diop takes us on a journey across the Parisian region to meet its inhabitants. Humble and attentive, the director takes a fresh look at a multicultural territory marked by History, far removed from the usual media caricatures.
In 1989, writer François Maspero travelled the 50 km of the RER network’s B Line from North to South, a tremendous viewpoint of French society, on a journey that went through council estates, industrial zones and forests. Aboard the same train, Alice Diop looks back at this multicultural territory, built from antagonisms and contradictions, to give it voice and restore its complexity. Film after film, and with exemplary coherence, Alice Diop constructs a committed and vital body of work to provide cinematographic existence for Seine-Saint-Denis, her home department, which she perceives from a new perspective. Her feeling of belonging to the places and the urgent and obsessional approach by which she uses imagery to bring life to the inhabitants lead to a more personal account. Some amateur archives—traces of her parents’ past, furtive images of a mother, a cleaner, out of the frame—build the foundations of this intimate territory.
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