Alice Diop

IndieLisboa 2021 •

France, Documentary, 2021, 115′

Who are we? What space is there, for each person, within that word? The RER B train runs through Paris into its suburbs. This is the line where Alice Diop draws isolated portraits that make up a whole. A film-essay that questions a French nation haunted by divisions and fractures whose healing seems complicated. But there is space for gestures that unite human beings, regardless of what separates them.

We opens with a scene in which a hunter observes a deer in the distance. He needs his binoculars because you can not see anything at a first glance. A group of white men, who seem to have landed from another time, continue to search and hunt what lies on the edge. Diop doesn't need binoculars to see this edge of the world. The director films the crowded RER, full of racialized workers who get up very early in the morning. She meets a man who fixes broken cars and makes a phone call to Mali, where he has not returned for 20 years. She follows the journey of a home nurse who administers care as she collects stories. This is the us that the feature film is about. Especially at a time when community organization is seen as threatening to the republic, at the time of the law against “separatism”, this is far from being obvious to us. Does Alice Diop make a movie about the suburbs? Filming them, the filmmaker also films the foundation of society. A tale that is not that of dominant, with a gaze endowed with empathy, which does not look at the residents of the suburbs as a curious population in an unknown land. Diop comments, regarding this us: “It is a question and a doubt, an affirmation and a work-in-progress”. (Mickäel Gaspar)

Director's Bio

Born in Aulnay-sous-Bois, France. Her films, which question French society and its cultural diversity, and have been screened at festivals including Cinéma du Réel in Paris, BFI London, Karlovy Vary, the Viennale and the documentary film festival in Lussas, France. Her feature-length documentary On Call won the main prize at Cinéma du Réel while her short film Towards Tenderness won the 2017 César French film prize for Best Short Film.