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09.02.2020 Europe

Tale of gang violence in Paris suburbs leads French Oscars hopes

Philippe LOPEZ / AFP
LISTEN FEB 9, 2020
Philippe LOPEZ / AFP

It's Oscars night in Los Angeles and four French films are vying for some of the most coveted trophies: Best International Feature Film, Best Animated Feature Film, Best Live Action Short Film and Best Animated Short Film.

Making his Oscar-nominated debut, French director Ladj Ly told Time magazine he was astonished his film Les Misérables, about racist police violence in Paris's poor, immigrant suburbs, les banlieues, has found a global audience.

It's one of five nominated for Best International Feature Film, after having taken the Jury Prize at Cannes last year.

Ly grew up in Montfermeil, the eastern Paris suburb that partly inspired Victor Hugo's 1862 novel Les Misérables.” Although the film takes its title from the Hugo novel, it's set in the modern social housing estate of Les Bosquets.

Meanwhile in the running for Best Animated Feature is the Netflix surreal existential drama I Lost My Body, by director and co-writer Jérémy Clapin.

The film, which has won an impressive number of accolades, tells the story of a severed hand that comes to life through unexplained supernatural means and goes on a journey through Paris to find its body.

Another film in competition is Nefta Football Club, directed by France's Yves Piat, who's hoping to nab the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film for his comedy about two brothers who unexpectedly come across a donkey carrying narcotics in the desert.

The film is set on the southern border between Tunisia and Algeria, and runs for a mere 17 minutes.

Last but not least is Bruno Collet's 12-minute stop-motion film Memorable, about a painter living with Alzheimer's disease. In contention for Best Animated Short Film, Collet's sixth animated short mixes animated puppets and computer-generated 3D special effects.

Meanwhile French composer Alexandre Desplat has won his 11th Oscar nomination in the Best Music (Original Score) category for the film Little Women, by Greta Gerwig.

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