For several decades in Roubaix, the district of Pile is gradually emptied of its inhabitants. As evidenced by its dozens of workers’ houses walled by the public authorities while waiting for the launch of a neighborhood renovation project.
It was finally launched in 2013 with the aim of “de-densifying” a district that is not well adapted to modern constructions and the objectives of “social mix” set by the town hall.
Believing that they could be associated with the renovation of their neighborhood, many residents realized that they had little space and decided to organize with the support of local associations.
This documentary looks back at a struggle of more than two years between a collective of inhabitants and the decision-makers of an urban renewal project of a popular district, as there are many others in France.
From the testimonies of several of its actors, we wanted to highlight the effects of these renovation processes in the daily life of the inhabitants who are the object, as well as the methods used to carry out these projects supposed to take account their expectations, hopes or fears for the future of a neighborhood in which solidarity and neighborhood ties are a fundamental resource.
From the formation of a collective mobilization to the difficulties faced by the lack of means of action through a feeling of disdain regularly denounced, this documentary also makes it possible to trace the stages of a fight reminding that the popular districts are far from being political deserts.
Short message from the authors
Some small things that can be important before seeing our documentary “Pile, permis de démolir”:
– the city of Roubaix in the north of France has a great working history and is therefore closely linked to immigration; several Portuguese live there! And if it is not one of the themes dealt with in the film, it is important to remember that the locals who speak also have immersed themselves in this historical context.
– the film was made collectively; what you will see was built with residents of a popular neighborhood who wanted to give a positive view of life and daily life in their neighborhood. It is not the point of view of the directors that is defended, but a collective view.
– The film tells a movement of residents that lasted more than two years, but was only filmed the last six months; after a year and a half, seeing that the fight was gradually losing, the villagers asked us to make the film.
– the group of residents had stopped, but some residents began to mobilize to talk about their experience in other districts of the city, which are also in difficulty against urban projects decided by the chamber.
We hope you enjoy viewing the film, and that questions and indignations arise.
Lucas Roxo is an independent journalist and documentary filmmaker. Author of radio, video and multimedia reports (Le Monde, RadioTélévision Suisse, L’Équipe, etc.), he also directed two other documentaries: La marche d’après and Sinto a tua falta. His approach reflects a strong interest in the themes of immigration and the fight against racism, and his work is also turned towards the Portuguese-speaking world (Portugal, Brazil, Portuguese-speaking Africa …). Very sensitive to the issue of transmission, Lucas Roxo also testifies to a rich experience of media education and information workshops throughout France (Roubaix, Créteil, Paris).
Simon Pillan has been working for several years on the issues of poor housing and urban transformation between Lille and Roubaix. He is a member of the Fives Popular Urbanism Workshop, in Lille, which acts in support of dislodged people, against the gentrification policies of working-class neighborhoods and for a city chosen by those who live there.