An experimental documentary by French director Alice Diop that is a kaleidoscopic portrait of the inhabitants of Paris and its suburbs, who are united by a single railway line.
We explores the commonality of people who are united by territory and city transport networks and also the hidden personal connections that Diop carefully makes visible. The director’s sister is a social worker who visits elderly people at home and is the only person who knows about their daily life and connects them to the outside world. Other elderly French people are an integral part of their communities, which are founded on cultural and historical ties. They attend church services and take part in hunts that are styled like the aristocratic pursuits of the past, and their world gives the impression of being hermetically sealed. The characters include writer Pierre Bergounioux, who discusses questions of historical inequality and how language reflects the centuries-old hierarchies of French society. Next there are shots in which a multinational group of young people relaxes in a park listening to Édith Piaf’s song «La foule.» As if in dialogue with the name of the film, they note that the commonality of people that the legendary French performer is singing about no longer exists.
Diop also constructs links between personal and collective memory, telling the stories of individual characters or making general points, including shots of a museum exhibition about the victims of the death camps. For discussions about personal matters, Diop uses the most intimate thing, her personal family archive.
Alice Diop grew up in a Senegalese family that moved to Paris in the 1960s. She includes shots of her family taken on a handheld VHS camera that show an improvised tour of the house, her mother’s last Christmas, and discussions with her father in which Alice reveals the difference between two generations of migrants. For her parents, it was important to be buried in their homeland and for much of their life they saved money for their last journey to Senegal. Alice feels the connection to family in the new country and would like to stay there forever.
This multifaceted reflection on the unity or disconnectedness of contemporary French society won Best Film at Encounters at the 71st Berlin International Film Festival.
The film will be shown in French with Russian subtitles.
After the screening there will be a discussion of the film with a Garage mediator during which viewers can exchange opinions and ideas about what they have seen. The discussion will be constructed as a dialogue of equals in which the impressions and thoughts of every participant are important. The mediator will gently direct and moderate the conversation. The meeting will last one hour. Participation is free.
Director Alice Diop
France, 2021. 115 min.