January 10, 2020 | Katelin Levy

Djebril Zonga stars in LES MISERABLES (2019)
Photo Credit: SRAB Films, Courtesy of Amazon Studios

France’s selection for the 2020 Academy Award® for Best International Feature Film, and a sensation at the Cannes International Film Festival where it won the Jury Prize, LES MISÉRABLES opened today at Angelika Film Center.

Inspired by the 2005 riots in Paris, LES MISÉRABLES follows Stéphane (Damien Bonnard), a recent transplant to the impoverished suburb of Montfermeil, as he joins the local anti-crime squad. Working alongside his unscrupulous colleagues Chris (Alexis Manenti) and Gwada (Djebril Zonga), Stéphane struggles to maintain order amidst the mounting tensions between local gangs. When an arrest turns unexpectedly violent, the three officers must reckon with the aftermath and keep the neighborhood from spiraling out of control.

LES MISÉRABLES was filmed in Monfermeil, where writer-director Ladj Ly grew up and still lives. He started out his film career by directing web documentaries that delved into the realities of the social and political life of his neighborhood. Montfermeil is also where Gavroche, Victor Hugo’s iconic character from his 19th century novel, lived.  Inspired by the 2005 Paris riots, the film was based on actual events in Ly’s life as well as his original César nominated short of the same title.  Delicately balancing the complexities of reality, and filming each character without judgment, Ly depicts his world with humanity, humor and compassion, while making clear that it is on the edge of implosion.

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