21 juin 2024

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Cannes Film Festival: “THE STORY OF SOULEYMANE” the Jury Prize – un certain regard


How can one remain indifferent to such a film? "The Story of Souleymane", a film that rings true and resonates!

How can one remain indifferent to such a film?

“The Story of Souleymane”, a film that rings true and resonates!
Programmed in the Un certain Regard series that often reveals the talents of tomorrow, this film rightly won the Jury Prize.

What’s more, it is masterfully filmed by Boris LOJKINE, a French director we’ve already heard of (Audience Award at the Locarno International Film Festival).
And with top actors!
And so real!
The jury of the Un certain regard section was not mistaken in awarding Abou SANGARE, the main actor, the prize for best actor.

You only need to know the situation of most undocumented immigrants in France to see how the director was able to film up close and without pathos the “day to day” and hour to hour life of an illegal immigrant forced to face, alone, all the vicissitudes of life in a foreign country. The nights in shelters, the struggles, the exploitation at work. And always the same obstacle: impossible to complain. How to go to the hospital or the police when you are in an irregular situation? It’s too risky!

Souleymane works or more precisely “sublets” a meal delivery application; he doesn’t count his hours and yet he is underpaid. The spiral begins: without money he cannot benefit from the advice necessary to regularize his situation. And time is running out: this young Guinean is summoned 48 hours later by the OFPRA for an interview which will result in the granting or not of political asylum…

Like a report – although extremely well filmed with very well framed images – this film is proof of how Boris LOJKINE (agrégé and former philosophy teacher) from the documentary, has the art of filming as closely as possible this real obstacle course experienced by all these men forced to submit to an underground economy made of injustice and exploitation.

This film echoes a reality that a figure alone is enough to illustrate: 55% of the staff employed in the restaurant sector in PARIS are made up of “undocumented immigrants” who, for the most part, are exploited and used shamelessly; and who often work 12 hours a day (not counting the journeys) and 6 days a week, exploited by employers who, oh paradox, are sometimes themselves compatriots, provided with the precious sesame! The story of Souleymane evokes this often qualified workforce, who finds themselves in France, destitute and subject to forced labor at will! An easy workforce, who of course, does not know the meaning of the word vacation…

Let’s hope that this film with multiple awards will obtain an additional one, namely the regularization of the situation of its main actor Abou SANGARE, a young 23-year-old mechanic who has worked for 6 years in the city of AMIENS and whose application for regularization has just been refused.

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