Bertrand Tavernier was challenged by a right-wing minister to test his liberal ideas about integration and unemployment by spending time in a densely populated housing project in Montreuil, a paradigm of racially mixed joblessness. The ensuing reportage, a two-parter for TV, is more cheering than disheartening; many of the people the Taverniers meet prove generous, optimistic and impressively clear-sighted. As ever, generalisations crumble before complex, idiosyncratic individuals: the delinquent rehabilitated by an interest in glass blowing; the Malians with a round-the-clock bazaar in their building's vestibule; the '50s leftie, mellowed with age, whose death during the filming elicits a most moving tribute. Tavernier ends with a quotation from Thoreau about abject humanity living in fine, dignified palaces, commenting that Thoreau got it precisely the wrong way round.
Bertrand Tavernier, Nils Tavernier