It is a parallel space and time, a countercurrent running against the flow of passers-by strolling along the sunny Parisian canals that directors Hind Meddeb and Thim Naccache set out to film in the summer of 2016. This socially aware documentary provides insights into the daily life of exiles fleeing from wars in Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Guinea, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan. Forced to sleep on the streets on their arrival, these men and women congregate in makeshift camps around Stalingrad metro station, where their daily lives are punctuated by police raids and alterations to the urban space the City and State authorities have ordered to prevent foreigners gathering in public spaces. Paris Stalingrad depicts the police brutality and structural violence to which refugees in France are subjected, alongside the shortcomings of a dysfunctional administration and the abdication by the public services of their responsibilities, offloading them onto NGOs often resigned to the attacks being made on the duty of solidarity that they stand for. Against this disturbing background, we discover the harsh reality of life on the streets but also – amongst the anger, bitterness and shared moments of complicity – the solidarity of local residents as well as the resistance and resilience of a struggling community. Paris Stalingrad is not a comprehensive survey of the experiences of exiles in France, but rather a portrayal of these invisible people which questions, without providing all the answers, the role and the responsibility of a State that is now defending its borders from within the city itself.
Capucine Coninx • Coordination/Communication of Alternatives Humanitaires
Translated from the French by Fay Guerry