“When the fire of destitution eats away at you, fear takes a hold of your life”
Summer 2016, and refugees are camping in the Stalingrad district of Paris, because there is nowhere else for them to go. This frontier-space is both a physical and a bureaucratic labyrinth for the refugees.
In her new film Paris Stalingrad, Hind Meddeb shows a hidden side of Paris, where the city closes its doors to asylum seekers, builds fences to expel them from public spaces, and creates new borders downtown.
How can the citizens make room and be collective when there is no room to make?
How can the refugees live in a space that gives no options to exist?
Refugees are pouring into France from North Africa, the Middle East and as far away as Afghanistan, seeking a place to live as their own homelands continued to be decimated by civil wars and religious violence.
The film captures the raw reality of the situation. People of colour live in tents or sleep on the streets with blankets as their only shelter. Lines of refugees are forced into queues as France’s increasingly overwhelmed bureaucracy attempts to decide their fate. Weeks go by as the line-ups grow longer and the weather turns, while the police, diabolically, seize tents and blankets, making the situation of the now freezing displaced people even more pitiable.
“What do we do when an openly hostile
national policy towards foreigners
unfolds before our very eyes?”
— Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa
Meddeb maps out the changing geographical cityscape that is the new shared ordeal: where to find water to drink and wash, where to cook and eat and clean.
Paris Stalingrad is a tough, ultra-modern critique of the West’s inhumanly slow response to people whose lives have been utterly transformed by the endless civil wars and environmental destruction that’s taking place in so many places around the world.
Previous festival selections include:
Toronto International Film Festival
Arabic, English, French