‘Les Misérables’ Marks France’s First Oscar Submission By a Black Filmmaker

IndieWire | 9/21/2019 | Staff
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Ladj Ly’s politically-charged feature debut, “Les Miserables,” which won the Jury Prize at Cannes, has been selected by France’s Oscar committee as the country’s submission to the international feature film competition. While much has been made about the decision to submit the film over “Portrait of a Lady on Fire,” the decision by the committee is a historical one for the country, as it marks the first time that France has chosen a film from a black filmmaker to represent the country at the Academy Awards.

Based on his powerful 2017 short film of the same name, “Les Misérables” is inspired by the violent 2005 Paris riots, which primarily involved youth of African descent. The three-week uprising was rooted in rising unemployment among the youth, who were mostly confined to poor housing estates, and the harassment they routinely experienced at the hands of the police. At the center of the film are three members of an anti-crime brigade who are overrun while trying to make an arrest.

'Portrait - Lady - Fire - Out - France

'Portrait of a Lady on Fire' Loses Out on France's Oscar Pick to Ladj Ly's 'Les Miserables'

The film beat out two other frontrunners for the submission, both of which were directed by women — Celine Sciamma’s “Portrait” and Alice Winocour’s “Proxima.” However, “Les Misérables” is the timeliest of that trio, grounded in the realities of the...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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