Hind Meddeb

Documentary · 2019 · Co-directed by Thim Naccache

Paris Stalingrad

This film reveals a hidden side of Paris, between State’s violence and human rights abuses against refugees arriving from countries in war to start a new life here.

Paris, summer 2016. Refugees arriving from Sudan, Ethiopia, Erythrea, Somalia and Afghanistan have no other choice than to sleep in the streets. Makeshift camps start growing in Stalingrad district. 

I witnessed the French state’s violence against these new immigrants and decided to film their daily life, between police raids, massive arrests, and closed immigration offices. I made this film to share my experience on their side of the story, to reveal a hidden part of the city, to make visible the invisible ones.

Until that night, when I met Souleymane, a Sudanese teenager who lost everything during the war in Darfur. Whenever others denied his humanity, whenever he faced torture, slavery or abuse, Souleymane found solace in the one thing nobody could take from him: his poetry. For him, each poem is a way to say the unspeakable, to sublimate the violence he endured throughout his journey. I filmed Souleymane in his Parisian wanderings, to the beat of his poetic ramblings.

This shooting is part of the continuity of an approach I have been pursuing for several years in my documentaries and by which I want to take the time for meeting oppressed people and giving them a voice. I am with those I film, in a close relationship; and this is how it becomes possible to collect stories without filter and that are given to me with confidence.

I didn’t make a survey of the refugee’s journey in Paris, but a film that shows moments spent by them: the brutal experience of a street life and the joys of friendship. I prefer true conversation to interview, to preserve spontaneity in the exchanges. In the editing, I often made the choice to let my questions be heard, not to erase my voice, because it's a way to remind of my presence to the viewer and show the personal relationship that I maintain with those I film. In conclusion, I must admit that in the face of the many acts of violence and inhumanity inflicted on these people, I sometimes thought that I was making a film committed to alert the public. But over the course of the editing, it became clear that the most powerful counterpoint to what refugees endure when they arrive in Paris, is the life force that inhabits them, the extreme lucidity of their analyses and the intellectual and poetic finesse of their writings. Finally, police brutality and administrative violence are, in my opinion, referred to in this film as a setting and not a subject; the real subject of this film is the people it takes as characters.



On screen: Lami T. Nagawo | Souleymane Mohammad | Valérie Osouf | Adam Misscall | Galaxy Mohammad | Agathe Nadimi | Johan Corceron |

Original music: Bachar Mar Khalife |

Produced by Les Films du Sillage
In coproduction with Echo films |

Supported by: CNC | SCAM | AFAC | Région Ile de France | Région Grand Est | Procirep Angoa | Images de la diversité |



Cinéma du reel 2019

TIFF 2019