At the end of October 2005, the dramatic death of Bouna and Zyed at Clichy-sous-Bois, on the outskirts of Paris, set French high-rise suburbs ablaze.
For three weeks, French TV dedicated hours of airtime to these events; the suburbs and their inhabitants found themselves in the media spotlight. Selected words, selected images, selected journalists sent to cover events (TFI, the independent French television channel sent its war reporters), selected “good client” guests who supposedly represent youth, the dominant discourse abundantly relayed, a hodgepodge of ideas, the condemnation of whole neighbourhoods and of youth, an absence of self-criticism on the part of the journalists.
What impact does this have on the TV-watching citizen’s vision of society?
The first part of the film focuses on images from TV news and programs from all channels. It adheres to a principal: no commentary by media specialists, only extracts, the images paused, commented on, and interpreted.
Then it’s the suburbs that speak: young people from Aulnay-sous-Bois reflect upon their relationship with the media, the image given to their neighbourhood. Samir Mihi, a sports teacher at Clichy-sous-Bois, talks about the media coverage of events. A mother recounts what she went through after appearing on TF1’s evening news. A journalist talks about his work in the suburbs and the selection process applied to what will be broadcast.