Some movie magic for les banlieues?

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images For Paris’s dreary, far-flung suburbs, a little star power is on the way: A film crew will arrive next week in a filthy, semi-derelict, graffiti-strewn housing estate on the north-eastern extremity of Paris. Among the actors will be one of the best-known faces in world cinema: John Travolta. The name of the ...

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592154_081010_clichy2.jpg

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

For Paris's dreary, far-flung suburbs, a little star power is on the way:

A film crew will arrive next week in a filthy, semi-derelict, graffiti-strewn housing estate on the north-eastern extremity of Paris. Among the actors will be one of the best-known faces in world cinema: John Travolta. The name of the movie's location has become almost equally famous, or infamous. Les Bosquets ("the groves") is one of the twin estates at the border of Montfermeil and Clichy-sous-Bois which were the flashpoint, for riots which spread to the poor multi-racial suburbs of almost every large town in France in October 2005. ... Most of the movie, which has nothing to do with the problems of the "banlieues" or suburban estates, will be filmed in central Paris and elsewhere.

DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images

For Paris’s dreary, far-flung suburbs, a little star power is on the way:

A film crew will arrive next week in a filthy, semi-derelict, graffiti-strewn housing estate on the north-eastern extremity of Paris. Among the actors will be one of the best-known faces in world cinema: John Travolta. The name of the movie’s location has become almost equally famous, or infamous. Les Bosquets (“the groves”) is one of the twin estates at the border of Montfermeil and Clichy-sous-Bois which were the flashpoint, for riots which spread to the poor multi-racial suburbs of almost every large town in France in October 2005. … Most of the movie, which has nothing to do with the problems of the “banlieues” or suburban estates, will be filmed in central Paris and elsewhere.

French Director Luc Besson is out to boost the economy and “tap the talent” of the down-and-out suburbs. At least a few scenes of his film From Paris with Love, an English-language spy thriller, will be filmed in Les Bosquets. But once the camera dollies get taken apart and the aura of celebrity moves on to its next port of call, doesn’t everything return to normal? Even that shiny €100 bill for a hard day of “pretending” to be a local denizen can’t last long.

It will be a real spectacle, but the suburban dwellers of Paris would probably appreciate more attention from the folks in the Élysée Palace, and not just Hollywood royalty.

Jerome Chen is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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