It was a 2017 César Award nominee for Best Documentary (the highest film honor in France; the equivalent of the Oscars in the USA) – French music video director Olivier Babinet’s visually striking, atypical portrait of French youth, titled “Swagger,” which is part documentary and part fiction.
Described as “a teen-movie documentary,” the film takes audiences on a journey into the astonishing minds of eleven teenagers growing up in one of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in France. Despite their life difficulties, the kids of the Aulnay and Sevran municipalities have dreams and ambitions which they share via a mix of one-on-one interviews and what one review of the film called “impressively staged bursts of pure fiction,” including “a drone sequence where a fleet of CG spaceships invade the housing projects.”
Ultimately, “Swagger” aims to uncover the pockets of creativity that those on the outside don’t get to see behind the dominant images of the rough environment that these kids live in.
The filmmaker reportedly spent two years working with kids at the center of the film, before deciding to make a film about their lives.
“Swagger” premiered as a Cannes Acid sidebar selection in May last year, but we missed it at the time in our Cannes coverage. The film opened in France just last fall, but has yet to screen outside of Europe as of the time of this posting. It looks like something that selective film festivals in the USA might pick up, serving as an alternative to the usual film depictions of underprivileged kids (mostly African and Middle Eastern) in France. But I wouldn’t hold my breath for a commercial Stateside release anytime soon.
However, we were just alerted to an English-subtitled trailer for the film (which you can watch below) released by UniFrance earlier today; UniFrance is the organisation in charge of promoting French cinema throughout the world. It accompanies French films on the international markets, from their sale to their distribution; from selection by a recognized international festivals or screenings in international film markets; to theatrical releases in foreign territories. So the release of this Engligh-subtitled trailer by UniFrance could indicate that a push is underway to get the film to English-language markets, including the USA (we hope).
The cast includes Aïssatou Dia, Mariyama Diallo, Abou Fofana, Regis N’Kissi, Naila Hanafi, Paul Turgot, and Nazario Giordano.
Producers are Marine Dorfmann and Alexandre Perrier.
Check out the intriguing trailer for “Swagger” below – thankfully with English-subtitles: