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We

Directed by Alice Diop.
With Marcel Balnoas, Ethan Balnoas, Florence Roche.
France, 2021, DCP, color, 115 min.
French with English subtitles.
DCP source: MUBI

The move in Diop’s documentary filmmaking from individual subjects to a collective subject reaches its apex in We, a carefully composed, Wiseman-esque tapestry of quotidian scenes from across Paris, all of them linked by their proximity to the north-south RER commuter train that runs through the suburb of the filmmaker’s youth. Divvying focus between labor and leisure, immigrant and native, old and young, white and Black, and rich and poor, We attempts to capture the elusive character of a city, gently interrogating popular concepts of community and national identity. By juxtaposing the toils of service workers (a Senegalese nursing home caregiver, a Malian mechanic) against the leisure activities (game hunting, historical reenactments) of wealthier Parisians, the film reveals starkly opposed realities coexisting in the same city, but We offers much more than an exercise in dialectics. Diop also makes room for incursions into her family history with intimate archival footage of her father, which offers further context into the sense of exile and longing that permeates much of the film’s diasporic ensemble.

Part of film series

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Alice Diop’s Souvenirs of Lost Time