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Exclusive Essay: Swagger and New Suburban Cinema

Spotlight on Swagger



Olivier Babinet / France, 2016 / Cannes ACID, CPH:DOX, Festa do Cinema Francês Portugal, Französische Filmwoche Berlin, Geneva, Hamburg, Jeonju, Melbourne, Mumbai, Munich, Namur, Pärnu, Popoli, Quebec City, Stockholm, Valletta / 84'


Aïssatou Dia, a shy teenage girl living in the Parisian suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, attends school each day knowing the odds are stacked against her.  The fashionable Regis N'Kissi greets each day with a smile and focuses on his dreams rather than his fears.  Nine other children and teenagers demonstrate astonishing personalities and hopes for the future despite growing up in some of France's most underprivileged housing projects.


Capturing the perspectives of Parisian youth living on the fringes of society, Swagger strikes a poignant and topical portrait of life inside France's primarily-immigrant banlieue.  Olivier Babinet's first documentary feature premiered at Cannes ACID, CPH:DOX, Jeonju, Hamburg, Stockholm and Quebec City, where it won the Jury Prize.



"A visually striking, atypical portrait of French youth... Babinet and Finnish cinematographer Timo Salminen create a colorful visual exploration that's part urban fantasy and part ethnographic group portrait... Compared to a film like Jacques Audiard's Palme d'or winner Dheepan, which depicted the banlieue as a lawless war zone populated by gun-toting thugs, Swagger offers a portrait that’s both closer to reality and filled with a genuine sense of hope"

- Jordan Mintzer, Cannes ReviewThe Hollywood Reporter