La Haine screening in Tottenham aims to inspire youth where riots began

Film of gritty Paris suburbs to be shown by Future Cinema with Asian Dub Foundation live score on Broadwater Farm Estate

When the film La Haine was released in 1995, it sent shockwaves through French society with its gritty portrayal of urban youth in the bleak suburbs of Paris. Seventeen years later, the film is to be screened in Tottenham, north London, where the UK riots began in summer 2011.

Screened by the interactive company Future Cinema, the film will be shown on the eve of the London mayoral election and is intended to reopen debate about the causes of the riots while reaching out to young people on the Broadwater Farm estate, said founder Fabien Riggall.

"We believe cinema is a really powerful medium that is universal and should be available to everyone. This estate, and the most disadvantaged estates around the country, are full of creative and bright young people and we believe that showing a film of such power could inspire them to make a real difference."

It is new territory for the company, creator of Secret Cinema, whose previous interactive film experiences have seen children splattered with splurge guns during Bugsy Malone and lovers romanced by Brief Encounter.

"If 400 kids from this estate see this film and at least some of them can be inspired to go away and create their own that would be fantastic," said Riggall. Future Cinema has also commissioned six films from the estate, with the winning film to be shown before the screening of Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine.

The film – which charts a day in the life of three characters in the Paris suburbs struggling against hopelessness and urban blight – aims to attract an audience of 400 residents and will feature a live film score performance from alternative electronica act Asian Dub Foundation.

The event will be free – subsidised by paid-for screenings of the film at the 1930s Troxy venue in east London. Other screenings, organised by local groups, are planned throughout the country on the same night. Future Cinema is also planning a screening in Saint Denis, a disadvantaged suburb of Paris – on the eve of the second round of the French presidential election.

It could be the start of a "positive revolution" on the estate, according to 26-year-old Isaac Densu, a film-maker and resident of Broadwater Farm who has been brought on board by Future Cinema. "A lot of the problems you see in La Haine are the same problems faced by the people on this estate and I think it will be a great way to get people to reflect. Telling people is different to showing them and by screening the film I think people will find their own route, rather than being told what to do."

The company will have a office on the estate and hopes to continue showing films as a social enterprise. Densu has big ambitions. "We're showing La Haine first to get people in but it would be great to show Grand Hotel, Jules et Jim or classics like Casablanca," he said. "Lots of people around here just go to work and come back to the estate – that is their reality. I want to show people there are all kinds of worlds out there."

The event will be organised, policed and run by the community, according to Future Cinema. "We don't want to impose this on Broadwater Farm – everything we do will come through the people we employ," said Riggall.

Future Cinema has been in discussions with Haringey council and local police to ensure safety at the event. Densu said involving local community leaders in security would reduce the risk of unrest and hoped the film screening could challenge people's perception of the estate. "After the riots people think there is no humanity here, like we breed nasty people, and that's just not the case. Nothing like this ever happens on Broadwater Farm so it is a chance to say something positive about the area," he said.

In La Haine, the character Vinz, played by Vincent Cassel, repeatedly sees a cow wandering through his estate, and one of Riggall's wilder schemes involves bringing a friendly bovine on holiday to Broadwater Farm. "It's a bloody brilliant idea," said Densu. "I doubt anyone on the estate will have seen a cow since a school trip. People build their own sense of reality and disengage with mainstream society – for me bringing a cow here shakes that notion and says, no, your reality can change."


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

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