Banlieue is a French term for a suburb of a large city, an urban location on its outskirts, where a variety of diverse and interesting voices can be heard. Four different films from La Banlieues are presented in this programme at the Glasgow Short Film Festival 2019. The screening is presented and curated by Paris-based writer and photographer Pamela Pianezza and shows the depth and diversity of voices from these areas.
The screening begins with an explosive and powerful short dance film The Amorous Indies (Les Indes galantes) (France, 2018) from director Clément Cogitore. The opera Les Indes Galantes soundtracks a confrontational dance piece where the performers size each other up before unleashing expressive and energetic dance moves. It is a gripping film that is thoroughly compelling for the six short minutes of its duration.
The Return (Le Retour) (France, 2013) directed by Yohann Kouam is an overpowering and overwhelming take on masculinity. A young boy is reunited with his brother and discovers that his older sibling is gay. He then begins to question his own sexuality and unleashes his frustrations on a feminine classmate. When the violence hits, it is shocking and devastating and shows the utter pointlessness of masculine stereotypes and the narrow-minded bravado of the young heterosexual male. The film uses drama and narrative to great effect and expresses emotion and trauma in a bold and audacious manner.
Citizen Day (Journee d’appel) (France, 2014) directed by Basile Doganis is a drama that follows a group of young students as they attend an appointment at a military base in Versailles. A pair of students turn up late and finds themselves bonding with one another. Meanwhile, the other students are taught various lessons under the strict eye of the military. The film looks at belonging and identity and leaves a bitter taste when the lessons the students learn are put into perspective after they are confronted by the police during the conclusion of the film.
Towards Tenderness (France, 2015) directed by Alice Diop is a masterful documentary. Voice-overs and evocative imagery are used to tell different stories from the high-rise flats on the outskirts of Paris. Masculinity again finds its way into the narrative, but the variety of the voices and the different perspectives ensures the audience is drawn into a film that has diversity at its heart. It is a great conclusion to a fantastic selection of films.