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Ladj Ly/ France / Drama, Action / Subtitles / 102 minutes / 2019 / Colour

“French-Malian director Ladj Ly’s first feature, Les Misérables, is adapted from his 2017 award-winning short film of the same name. Ly grew up and still lives in Montfermeil, a North Paris suburb, where the film is set, and a suburb best known as the location of Victor Hugo’s classic novel. Set in the wake of France’s unifying 2018 World Cup victory, the film centres on three policemen, one of them recently recruited to the Montfermeil anti-crime brigade. Inspired by the 2005 riots, a three-week period of civil unrest characterised by violence, looting and cars burning, Ly examines tensions between neighbours and the police brutality that helped inflame rioting and an uprising against the anti-crime brigade. Ly’s work talks of the invisible and marginalised in Paris’ suburbs. The film is in Ly’s words, a call for action: “I made it mostly for the politicians because they are responsible for this situation that they’ve left to rot for about 40 years”. (Marie-Pierre Richard)

“Occasionally recalling the more urgent, ragged work of Spike Lee in its feverish, on-the-ground formal energy, Les Misérables is aptly galling as a study of everyday power structures tested and exploited to breaking point…” Variety

Jury Prize, Cannes International Film Festival 2019; French Official Oscar Nomination, Academy Award for International Feature 2020


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