‘I feel liberated’: How young migrants in France produced their own movie

Author: Léa Marchal

This article is by Léa Marchal and is part of Changing the Narrative. Articles in this series are written by student or early-career journalists who took part in The Local’s training course on solutions-focused migration reporting. Find out more about the project here.

In the music academy of Montbéliard, on Saturday afternoon, Joel and Mohamed are playing the rhythm on the drums, Silvestre is recording while Williams is trying to add his vocals on the music.

Williams has written a song. And, together with the other boys, he is trying to find the best rhythm to record the better version of it. Joel and Mohamed are not missing an opportunity to try new things with their instrument. The team needs the music for the film they are making with Fabien Guillermont, film director, for the purpose of the workshop they have been doing together since July 2020.

Joel, Mohamed, Silvestre, and Williams have been living in France for more or less a year. They are unaccompanied minors who have been sent to the département of Doubs on the Swiss border and are now under the responsibility of the children protection centre Grange-la-Dame in Montbéliard.

The centre is in charge of 70 children who are either subject to social services or children who arrive in France without a parent or guardian.

There are currently 40 unaccompanied minors, all boys from the African continent. In 2019, 16,760 unaccompanied minors arrived in France. Ninety-five percent of them are boys and they are mostly aged between 15 and 18 years old.

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