Festival de Cannes' Jury Prize winner 'LES MISERABLES' to open 2019 COLCOA Film Festival, returning at the Directors Guild of America from September 23 through 28
by Oliver Carnay
U.S. Premiere | France | 2019 | Drama | 103 min | In French with English subtitles
Note: The Opening Night film "Les Miserables" will be on September 23 at the Directors Guild Theatre. Doors open at 6:00pm. Reception includes complimentary food and beverages from 6:00pm to 7:15pm in the DGA Lobby. Film begins at 7:30 pm in both Renoir & Truffaut Theatres.
The Renoir Theatre showing will be followed by a Q&A with director Ladj Ly and actor Djebril Didier Zonga.
Directed by: Ladj Ly Written by: Ladj Ly, Alexis Manenti Cinematography: Julien Poupard Film Editing: Flora Volpelière Original Score: Pink Noise Produced by: Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral (SRAB Films), Alice Girard (Rectangle Productions) Cast: Damien Bonnard (Stéphane), Alexis Manenti (Chris), Djebril Zonga (Gwada), Issa Perica (Issa), Al-Hassan Ly (Buzz), Steve Tientcheu (The Mayor), Jeanne Balibar (The Commissionner) International Sales: Wild Bunch U.S. Distributor: Amazon Studios U.S. Release date: October 18, 2019
Stéphane (Damien Bonnard) has recently joined the Anti-Crime Squad in Montfermeil, in the suburbs of Paris, France, where, Victor Hugo set his famed novel “Les Miserables”. Alongside his new colleagues Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga) - both experienced members of the team - he quickly discovers tensions running high between local gangs. When the trio finds themselves overrun during the course of an arrest, a drone captures the encounter, threatening to expose the reality of everyday life. Inspired by the 2005 Paris riots, and Ladj Ly’s short film of the same name, Les Misérables is a provocative insight into the tensions between neighborhood residents and police.
Victor Hugo’s magnum opus is both lionized and shaken up in Ladj Ly’s sprawling fresco of his native Montfermeil — a collection of housing projects crawling with sleazy cops, small-time hoods, the Muslim Brotherhood, and a ragtag group of kids left to fend for themselves… all jockeying for turf and struggling to forestall the inevitable. Majestic, stirring, gripping and compassionate, with a musical score that is, at once, moving and thrilling, the film follows an upright cop on his first day on the job, as he learns the ropes and struggles to hold onto his principles. It opens with a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise and a joyous eruption of fraternité, and concludes with a resounding eleventh-hour alarm and powerful plea to diffuse the tinderbox and somehow resolve all this (justified) anger and violence. Because the revolution is ever at hand!
Co-writer/director Ladj Ly grew up in the Les Bosquets neighborhood of Montfermeil. Passionate about the moving image from a young age, he began making short films at the local Kourtrajmé Collective and surreptitiously documenting violent arrests by the police on video. He inadvertently became the poster-boy for the momentous 2005 riots that erupted in those outer-city projects, thanks to artist JR’s photo mural famously depicting Ly brandishing a movie camera like a machine gun, which became the backdrop for much of the press coverage of those incendiary protests. He went on to direct several shorts and documentaries. His 2016 doc À voix haute : La Force de la parole was nominated for a César Award, as was his 2017 short, Les Miserables, which became the blueprint for this film. In 2018, he founded the École Kourtrajmé, a free film school in Montfermeil. Les Misérables, which Ly co-wrote with Alexis Manenti and Giordano Gederlini, and was honored with the Jury Prize at Cannes this year, is his first narrative feature.