School of Babel follows a year in a Paris schoolroom for children who have recently immigrated to France. Using a surprisingly intimate fly-on-the-wall style, Julie Bertucelli’s documentary gives us unforgettable glimpses into the lives of children from Mauritania, Serbia, Venezuela, Romania, Senegal, Libya, Ireland, Brazil, and China - who have come to France for reasons ranging from studying violin at the Paris conservatory to escaping genital excision.
May Allah Bless France! is the invigorating first feature by acclaimed French rapper and novelist Abd Al Malik, a coming-of-age story based on the writer-director’s own youth in the beleaguered projects of Strasbourg. The film follows the struggles of Régis, a budding rapper who relies on petty crime to fund his passion for music. As his fellow musicians get lured into drug dealing, Régis finds salvation in the classics of French literature and his conversion to Sufi Islam.
In Lucie Borleteau’s striking debut feature, the sailor setting off to sea and leaving behind a lonely lover is a woman: Alice, a young ship engineer. Once aboard, Alice realizes that Fidelio is the new name of the vessel she was trained on a decade earlier. And, the ship’s captain was once her first great love. Borleteau paints an unforgettable picture of shipboard life for a woman who is one of the boys but faces the double standards that go with being the only girl in a world of men.
In My Friend Victoria, Victoria (Guslagie Malanda) becomes fascinated with a wealthy, white family as a little girl, then later has a daughter out of wedlock with one of the sons. As she struggles both with a sense that she is losing her daughter to this bourgeois family and the growing resentment of her own son, who has a black father and does not enjoy the family’s attention, Victoria highlights the situation of foreigners in France today: privilege is within her reach, but never truly hers.