Following his powerful critique of police brutality in ‘Les Misérables,’ the French filmmaker Ladj Ly returns to his hometown to capture the ongoing anger within a community he believes is still facing significant challenges.
“The suburbs it’s where I grew up, and it’s an area close to my heart. It was important to make another film to talk about the various problems that can arise in these neighbourhoods, particularly the housing problem. It’s a problem that affects a huge number of people, whether in France or abroad in the big cities, whether in the United States, Brazil or elsewhere. We realize that the housing problem affects millions of people,” explained the award-winning director.
In his new film “Les Indésirables,” young activist named Haby, faces displacement as idealistic doctor Pierre, takes over as the mayor of her suburb and implements urban renewal plans, threatening the residents of her rundown apartment block with eviction.
“Building 5, is the building I grew up in, and it was from this building that I was evicted to be rehoused, so it’s a story that’s quite personal to me, and that’s why I wanted to make a film on the subject of housing,” added Ly.
“I was born and still live in a priority zone neighbourhood, as they like to call them. The area in which I live is in the process of implementing a renovation plan and my aunt is directly impacted,” said actress
“I was inspired by a particular elected official who was mayor and made decisions quite similar to those the character makes in this film, so it was a bit of an inspiration.”
Issues in the banlieues are a recurrent theme in French cinema, depicting police brutality and racial profiling as common Challenges in the outskirts of the city of lights.
Les Indésirables will premiere in theatres on November 22nd.
‘Les banlieues’: police brutality and racial profiling
French director Ladj Ly achieved remarkable success with his 2019 directorial debut, ‘Les Misérables.’ Born and raised in the immigrant suburbs of Paris, known as the banlieues, Ly, now 43, has been documenting the daily struggles and injustices faced by his community since he was a teenager. ‘Les Misérables’ garnered international attention, winning the jury prize at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, receiving four César Awards (including Best Film), and earning an Oscar nomination in the Best International Film category.
Significantly, French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his concern about the film’s accuracy and pledged to address the living conditions in the banlieues.
However, these promises have yet to materialize.
On June 27, Nahel Merzouk, a 17-year-old French citizen of Moroccan and Algerian heritage, was fatally shot at close range during a traffic stop by a Paris police officer in the banlieues.
The incident, coupled with initial efforts by the police to distort the facts before video evidence revealed the truth, became a symbolic moment that ignited protests and civil unrest across France, lasting for weeks.