The Movie That Predicted France’s Upheaval

A black-and-white shot frames a deejay preparing his equipment. After a few introductory turntable spins, he blasts an eclectic mash-up of modern hip hop and one instantly recognizable classic from the top floor of a grim apartment block. As the music swells, the camera pans from the deejay’s apartment to the courtyard below, followed by a wider shot of several other indistinguishable housing projects in the surrounding area. The stark cinematography, the abrasive music, and the brutal architecture convey the socio-economic status of the neighborhood’s residents without a word of dialogue being spoken.

From his style of dress to his choice of music, it’s clear that the deejay is immersed in hip hop culture, but this is not an American film. The centerpieces of the mash-up are “Nique la Police” by Cut Killer, a French deejay of Moroccan extraction, and Edith Piaf’s “Non, Je ne regrette rien,” perhaps the most recognizable Francophone pop song of the past hundred years.