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France, 2005 (MIFF 2007, Documentaries)

Director: Chantal Briet


This portrait of a small grocery store in a tenement neighbourhood contends that utopias can be found in the most unlikely of places.

Amid the charmless, crumbling tenement buildings in a suburb of Epinay-sur-Seine, Ali Zebboudj's grocery store is a rare social space, a gathering point for the disenfranchised locals to talk and share stories.

Filmmaker Chantal Briet follows the day-to-day happenings in the store as charismatic shopkeeper and part-time singer Ali talks with the diverse locals in what is a real-life echo of Smoke's neighbourhood tobacco shop.

Briet's compelling vision of Ali's store is as an oasis of community in an urban wasteland, a space that, beyond its ostensible commercial purposes, offers a more fundamental kind of human commerce.

D Chantal Briet P Ludovic Arnal WS Yenta Production L French w/English subtitles TD betaSP/2005/84mins

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