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65th San Sebastian Film Festival
22/30 September 2017 - #65ssiff

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You are in: Home > 2019. 67th Edition  > Festival Diary > A wake-up callfor the French political class
A wake-up callfor the French political class
Les Misérables
Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Asked about how the project to make Les Misérables came about, director Ladj Ly explained that he’d been shooting scenes in his neighbourhood in Montfermeil since he was 17 and that his debut film emerged from a short he had made with the same title. He stressed that it was really important that this was one of the first times that life in the suburbs around Paris has been portrayed from the inside by someone who actually grew up there rather than by wellmeaning outsiders who rarely go beyond clichés. The title is a reference to Victor Hugo’s masterpiece and Ly says that it is a reinterpretation of the novel rather than an adaptation. Hugo is a benchmark not only for French literature but also for the residents of Ly’s neighbourhood as certain chapters of “Les Misérables” are set in Montfermeil. “I think you can establish certain analogies between some characters in the novel and some of the figures that appear in my film.” The film closes with a quote by Hugo that, ‘There are no weeds, and no worthless men. There are only bad farmers” and this is the essence of what Ly aimed to convey in his film.


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