Swagger

Swagger

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 - 6:30pm
Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 12:30pm
Trailer(s)
Cultural Partner(s)
Olivier Babinet | 
France |
 2016 | 
84 minutes

THE MAY 11 SCREENING IS PART OF THE RATED Y SERIES. BOTH SCREENINGS WILL BE FOLLOWED BY A FILMMAKER Q+A. 

NO MEMBERSHIP REQUIRED. OPEN TO YOUTH UNDER 18.

From its bravura opening POV shot, swooping like a bird of prey over an urban nightscape, Olivier Babinet’s film announces itself with a grand flourish. Swagger, indeed!

The Parisian suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois garnered international attention after the violence and rioting of 2005, but for kids growing up there, it is home. Director Babinet spent more than three years working with a dozen residents, posing questions about family and relationships, hopes and dreams. Although one painfully shy girl can barely speak her name out loud, others such as Régis Marvin Merveille N’Kissi Moggzi are bold as brass, talking fashion and soap opera plots.

The universal melds with the specific. On the playground, the kids choose teams for a game of soccer. The agonized look of those waiting their turn to be picked, especially one chubby little guy with enormous teeth, thick glasses, and an expression that alternates between hope and despair, will be familiar to anyone. In other sections, the very French aspect becomes clear, as the residents talk about the differences between class and race. “Blacks and Arabs are not treated the same as the French,” notes one young interviewee. The film is an interesting companion to Alice Diop’s Vers la tendresse (Towards Tenderness) (also playing at DOXA this year, see page 65), which examines more adult themes, but from a similar perspective of race and socioeconomic privilege. (Coincidentally enough, the housing project in Swagger is the same one that Alice Diop grew up in.)

A box office sensation in France, Babinet’s vivid documentary is bursting with life, and fantasy-fueled mise en scène, but the underlying sadness that colours so much of these young lives curls darkly at the edges. While a little girl reads Heidi in her bed, outside young men are shouting, “They’re coming! The cops!” Sirens paint the air in stippled bands of red and blue. Inside, one girl comforts another with a gentle pat, “Go to sleep,” she says, “You have school tomorrow.” -DW

Filmmaker

Olivier Babinet

Olivier Babinet was born in Strasbourg. His first feature film, Robert Mitchum Is Dead, co-directed with photographer Fred Kihn, was screened at the 63rd Cannes film festival in the ACID selection. The film won the Grand Prize at Premiers Plans Festival in Angers and was nominated for Best First Film at London Festival Raindance. In parallel to his activities as a screenwriter and director, Olivier Babinet worked with Aulnay-sous- Bois school students for two years, in a neighbourhood where 50% of families live below the poverty line. This collaboration resulted in these teenagers making eight fantasy and science fiction short films. The idea of making a documentary film about them gradually emerged from these encounters. Babinet was immersed with them for a total of four years. Swagger was presented at the Cannes Film Festival in 2016, in the ACID selection. Olivier Babinet is part of the artist collective “We are Familia” and has directed many music videos.