Under the Stars of Paris / Sous les étoiles de Paris (2020)

  • Drama
  • 1h 26m


UK Première,

courtesy of Memento Films.

Catherine Frot, who won the Best Actress César in 2015 for Marguerite, casts aside glamour to play Christine, a homeless woman who lives beneath a bridge in Paris. One night, she finds an eight-year-old black boy sobbing outside her makeshift home. Suli (Mahamadou Yaffa) is from Burkina Faso, he has lost his mother, and is all alone. After first trying to shake him off, Christine agrees to help him. The two outcasts, the immigrant child and the native indigent, brave Paris’s busy indifference and cold charity as they go in search of Suli’s maman.

In 2013, director Claus Drexel made On the Edge of the World, a documentary about homelessness in Paris, and he brings those insights to his third narrative feature. Here his cinematographer Philippe Guilbert (Into Dad’s Woods – also showing in the festival) renders the eternal city as a dream-like backdrop which only serves to emphasise the poignancy of the unlikely couple’s quest. At the same time, the filmmakers do not shy away from portraying the degradation of the homeless in a city of riches and the racism which can spring forth at any moment, but this is done without any notes of political outrage and the film remains an essentially humanist one. Particularly impressive is Catherine Frot, who embodies her character uncannily well and establishes a tangible chemistry with newcomer Mahamadou Yaffa in a largely wordless relationship. It’s a terrific performance from one of the giants of French cinema.

‘Delicate and heartfelt, Drexel’s film captivates us with gorgeous turns from Frot and Yaffa, as well as the quiet, emotional tone that the filmmaker crafts.’ - Andrew McArthur, Culture Fix.

‘Catherine Frot gives as strong a performance as one would expect from the ten-time César nominee. Her physicality perfectly captures the mannerisms and physical toll that living on the streets would have on an elderly woman.’ - Nico Marrone, The Wee Review.

CIFF audience comments:

‘I really enjoyed this film. Very poignant story with exceptional performances by the two central characters.’

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Catherine Frot, Mahamadou Yaffa, Jean-Henri Compère, Raphaël Thiéry, Richna Louvet


Claus Drexel


Claus Drexel


Olivier Brunhes


Philippe Guilbert