Like America, France has its own wild west. It’s called the suburbs. Les banlieues are hotbeds of political and social discontent, but they are also places of tremendous creative energy, freedom and hope, says Richard Dailey, who is launching NOS STATES in an attempt to bottle that energy. Indeed he’ll have to work carefully. In 2005 the kids from just outside of Paris set fire to thousands of cars (some of them their own parents’ vehicles) in a massive “carbecue.”
“The banlieues are falling apart, but today’s banlieusards are coming of age in close proximity to wealthy city centers and have broadband Internet,” says Dailey, a filmmaker and editor of the online journalAfterart News. Globalization happens in ghettos, too. How do the young banlieusards – Maghrebin or Black African and largely Muslim – perceive the U.S.A.?”
NOS STATES is a contest, documentary and French-American bling rap story all rolled into one. Dailey is sponsoring a contest and will shoot the various stages as well as the winners’ trip to New York City for a grand finale rap-a-thon. The project is a one-time “pop-up” hip-hop slam/freestyle contest and documentary film exploring attitudes toward the U.S.A. in the French suburbs.
How did he get the idea? “The US State Department spends $3 million a year in the French banlieues in a ‘hearts and minds’ campaign,” says Dailey. “I thought it was just to soften the ground so the CIA can recruit young Arabs. But I couldn’t prove it.” The idea got the filmmaker thinking: American politics vis à vis the French suburbs equals what? Hip hop culture. And it clicked.“