Synopsis by Sandra Brennan
Hoping to provide an insider's view of the horrible conditions endured by residents (most of them North African immigrants) of Paris' notorious suburban housing projects, noted filmmaker Bertrand Tavernier and his son and co-director Niles Tavernier lived in one of them for several months. The inspiration for their action came from the Paris housing minister who -- in response to several French filmmakers' call for civil disobedience after the French government passed the controversial immigration sanction, the Debre Act in 1997 -- suggested that Tavernier move into a project and to experience life on the "other side of the tracks" for himself. The director and his son, who did most of the filming, chose the neighborhood known as Grand Pechers ("The Big Peach Trees) located in Montreuil outside of central Paris. It took the two helmers quite a while to earn the trust of the locals, but eventually they succeeded. Interviewing educators, residents and officials, including cops, the Taverniers paint an unforgettable portrait of poverty, racism, violence and an inspiring sense of determination and perseverance from people who outwardly have very little hope of improving their lives.
ghetto, housing, immigration, interview, poverty, racism