Like a Pebble in the Boot
Comme un caillou dans la botte
True North | True North
Against the iconic backdrop of Brunelleschi’s Duomo of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, migrants, mostly from Senegal, peddle cheap trinkets and selfie sticks to tourists. That is, if they’re lucky. People are usually not interested, locals are often racist, street vending is illegal and many of the vendors are undocumented. It’s a frustrating life and they’re barely scraping by, with the constant threat of imprisonment or deportation looming. The migrants often have families in Africa who depend on them and returning home empty handed is not an alternative, so they sell African handicrafts that may or may not be made in China.
Filmmaker Hélene Choquette began her career as a photographer before becoming a cinematographer and then finally assuming her position in the director’s chair. Her visual acuity illuminates this doc as she turns her empathetic eye on these harassed harassers, hapless victims of global economics, driven from their homes by inexorable poverty. When they reach Europe, full of hopes and dreams of improving their lot, they discover that their castles in the air are made of sand.