By Sascha Krieger
Nous (Encounters / France / Director: Alice Diop)
In Nous, Alice Diop moves along the RER B regional train route through Paris and drops in on the lives of people outside the public eye. There is the elderly caregiver, Diop’s sister whose clients provide glances into the struggles of old people no longer useful to society but also a richness in memories and generosity, society neds to make more use of. Diop films a Senegalese man repaiting cars, children sliding down a hill, groups of vong PoC chilling, interviews a writer reading from diaries. Juxtaposed in a church service celebrating the king executed in the French Revolution and a hunting party that seems to come from a different time. What starts almost like a naturalistic social study that is not immediately discernible as non-fiction turns into a calm, quietly observed mosaic of lives on the outside. Inserting footage of her dead father and an old Super 8 video with her long gone mather appearing, Diop includes her own history in what appears to be a warm, generous, patient picture of a society that only seems to exist on its fringes. What connect the monarchists and the immigrants wasting their lives away forgotten, what except the train running though all these lives? Alice Diop has no answer except her film in which all of this is connected through the power of the truthful camera eye. It tells its own story, benevolent, fragmented, honest, hopeful.