Private Project


"Who is French?" Almost the entire high school senior class raises its hand.
We move on to a second question: "Who feels French?" Almost no hand is raised.
"STRANGERS AT HOME" gives voice to young French students for the most part from foreign descent, mainly of North African and African origin. They seem to strongly dismiss their attachment to France and claim a new communitarianism. At the same time, these young people cling to the culture and traditions of their countries of origin, their parents' country; a country they barely know and where, when they have the chance to go there, they are sometimes treated as immigrants. This identity crisis, to which is added a feeling of not belonging anywhere, generates the emergence of prejudice towards themselves and others. Contributions by historians, psychoanalysts, political scientists as well as their teachers make it possible for viewers to understand the complexity of the identity feelings of these young people. Confronted with the questioning of their teachers and outside contributors; without their usual reference marks and the influence of the group, they become aware of their contradictions and seem to shed their prejudice.

  • Isabelle Wekstein-Steg
    Portrait intime - entretiens avec Ady Steg
  • Mohamed Ulad
    Hercule contre Hermès
  • Isabelle Wekstein-Steg
  • Mohamed Ulad
  • Avec Productions
  • L'association Les préjugés
  • non actors
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
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  • Genres:
    Factual, social studies, interviews, youth, immigration, identity, racism, prejudices, antisemitism
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 1 minute
  • Completion Date:
    March 20, 2015
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
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  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • France Television Distribution
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Isabelle Wekstein-Steg, Mohamed Ulad

Isabelle Wekstein-Steg is a lawyer, founder and associate of the law cabinet WAN, specialized in business law, social law and intellectual property, which includes more than 20 lawyers.
For more than 10 years, she has been dedicated to the fight against racism and antisemitism.
In 2003 she participated in the creation of the "Informal Group" composed of members of the civil society, aimed at the creation of a new alliance, bringing together (but not only) French Jews and Arabs, to fight antisemitism and racism. Starting in 2005, Isabelle Wekstein-Steg intervenes, in a pioneering approach, in high-schools with the purpose of fighting prejudice and intolerance in the school environment, and to stop the trivialization of antisemitic and racist speech and acts.
In 2013, she co-directed with David Teboul a first film "Intimate Portrait - Interviews with Ady Steg".

Mohamed Ulad was born in Tangier in Morocco. After a license in plastic arts and a master from the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Mohamed produced several feature films. He has directed and produced about 40 documentaries and features and won awards in numerous festivals. In 2009 he created the Association Les prejudices (Prejudices Association) with Isabelle Wekstein with whom he intervenes in secondary schools on the themes of discriminations and of identity.

It is also a graduate of the Film Business School in Madrid and of ACE (European Film Studio)
Award of the Best Young Film Producer of the year (Fondation Lagardère)
Resident of the Villa Medici in Rome. Winner of Variety’s "Fifty to Watch".

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Director Statement

This documentary is the result of more than 10 years of sessions held in French high schools mostly in the Paris suburbs, in which together an Arab and a Jew questioned youngsters about racism, antisemitism, and prejudices. This stems from the observation made approximately 15 years ago, of a growing disconnect between disenfranchised youths and France's mainstream opinion and of the gradual separation between various communities within France's youth. This is best embodied in the keynote scene from the film in which, entering a class made almost entirely of young French citizens of foreign descent, when one asks the class "who here is French? », all the children raise their hand, but when asked "who feels French?" no one does...
While our sessions were held in all sorts of communities and schools, including public and private schools, religious schools (including Jewish schools) and non-religious schools, we chose to focus on one large high school; the Lycée Theodore Monod in Noisy le Sec, a suburb located 15 min from Paris city limits. In this school, the students are from 45 countries, the overwhelming majority being of immigrant descent.
In the movie, students express their perceptions of France and French citizenship, their disappointment at feeling rejected, their gross prejudice against others (the "French", the Jews, etc..); but also against themselves and the feeling of ghettoization. The feeling that they are not looked upon by others as true French, but also the feeling that they do not have much in common with the "genuine" French (culture, dress, food and even table manners) are key aspects of their perception of rejection.
Throughout our exchanges, we gathered surprising and often shocking remarks. The words exchanged between them and with us, reveal most of the time profound disarray, a loss of references and a feeling of rejection by society. The emotional reaction seems to have taken precedence over reflection.
Why can't these students manage to feel French?
Why this rejection against the country which hosted their parents or great- grandparents and nevertheless, is theirs? Why have these young people integrated a racist, xenophobe, and anti-Semitic speech? Why do victims of racism, sometimes use its vocabulary?
How is the question of identity linked to that of antisemitism and the rise of radical Islam?
Why are these communities essentially and increasingly bound by religion?
Through the voice of the young people to which we give the floor, but also with their professors and ourselves, this film tries to provide elements of replies to these questions and describes, in all its complexity a certain reality of the youth of immigrant descent, which is particularly timely.
Finally, with a strong impulse from their teachers, the students wander outside their own suburb into Paris. During visits to the Paris Grand Mosque, at Notre Dame, at the Drancy's camp memorial and into posh Paris neighborhoods, some of them gradually come to terms with the fact that they truly are French.