by writers/directors Fanny Liatard & Jérémy Trouilh
With this letter, we would like to tell you, in a few words, the story that links us to Gagarine.
The desire to make this film was born from several encounters.
First, our own, a friendship that has connected us since our studies in political science, reinforced by years spent together in South America where we were both impacted by a way of looking at the world, a certain magical realism, which gave birth to our desire to become filmmakers.
Then there was our encounter with the building, "la cité Gagarine," in 2015. We discovered this huge red brick block, already destined to be demolished at the time, as a documentary project of portraits of its inhabitants. The futuristic architecture of the place, its inauguration by the first man who went into space, the utopias carried within it along with its future demolition, immediately made us want to set a fictional story there. We wanted to tell the story of a young man who refuses to leave, because this building is everything to him, the setting for his dreams and his family.
Then we met the inhabitants of these 370 apartments, a rich and strong community, which welcomed us for years. We wrote the film by their side, watching them live there, and then leave their homes one by one. We listened to their dreams, their fears, their nostalgia and their struggles.
With Gagarine, we wanted to pay a tribute to them, and shift the perception on communities that are often too stigmatized, trapped in an image often reduced to violence and poverty. Without denying any difficult social and economic realities, we wanted to make a film about the dreams of young people, and the need to reinvent the utopias that once supported the idea of living together.
The magical dimension allowed us to approach reality and violence from another angle. What Youri is going through is hard. He is the symbol of a young person who has been pushed to the edge. And when people like him suffer from abandonment, they close in on themselves. But Youri loves his housing project. For him, it is not just a utopia of the past. It is his present, and the soil of his future. Leaving it means losing everything, his family as well as his imaginary world. So he becomes a resistant.
This film is also a memory tool, a testimony to the architectural vision of the large housing projects’ era, and, above all, to the people who created the life of this place. They are everywhere, either in the visual or sound archives, in front of the camera, or behind it, as part of the technical teams.
We strongly believe in the universal scope of this story, anchored in a very particular context, because it is connected to topics that touch us all. The attachment to a place, a home, the importance of community, and the power of one' s gaze to transform reality and inspire new dreams. Thanks to the Cannes film festival selection, we had the joy of seeing the film bought by over 40 countries, with distributors committed to making cinema shine throughout the world. The release of Gagarine in the United States, a country of cinema that inspires us with so many stories, is an immense happiness. We hope that one day we will be able to meet American audiences, and have a dialogue with them about these stories that link us all.
Posted March 24, 2022