Cinéma du réel, short summary
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Stella, her husband and sister live in a shantytown installed under the motorway in Plaine Saint-Denis just north of Paris. Stella begs in the metro, and the hospital where she goes for treatment is her only contact with society. One of the invisible, illegal immigrants of our cities, she was a factory worker during the Ceausescu regime. She has devoted her life to saving the man she loves. She fights on silently.

Cinéma du réel, web site
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Every day, Stella begs at the Oberkampf metro station, yet no-one really sees her, just as no-one sees the blind flower-seller in City Lights. Leaving everything behind, she chose to live illegally in France for love of her seriously ill husband Marcel. She was convinced she would find a doctor able to treat him. She succeeded but the backlash is overwhelming and she, in turn, falls ill. Jobless, penniless and with no legal status, she has to finish her course of medical treatment before returning to Romania. While the film renders her anguish and suffering palpable, it also shows a women who never gives up, who is determined to solve her problems one after the other with the means she has available. Within her exhausted frame, there lies an iron will.

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A shantytown, stuck between the railway tracks and the motorway, in the suburbs close to today’s Paris. Stella, an ageless Romanian woman, lives in a caravan with her husband Marcel, a Romanian gypsy, and her sister Gabi. Everyday she goes into town to beg in the metro. The film, however, focuses on her “home”, exploring the realities behind the stereotype of a Romanian beggar. We are shown her daily life: washing, cooking, cleaning without running water, sweeping the little area in front of her caravan, leafing through photo albums, reminiscing about the past, praying.
Stella came to France for the love of her husband who needed urgent medical attention: “Marcel would have died if we had stayed in Bucharest, French doctors are the best in the world.” Ironically, her efforts to help him undermined her own health, and she had to seek further help.
We learn of her plans for medical treatment, we listen to conversations with neighbours, and memories of her past as a factory worker, whilst witnessing the unavoidable humiliations of her life as a beggar. As the film progresses, the portrait of a more perceptive woman emerges. She eventually decides to go home. Will her house, her family, her friends still are waiting for her?

Short summary
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Behind the stereotype if the Romanian beggars in the Paris metro, unknown stories are being lived. The film reveals Stella, a prematurely aged former factory worker whose home is a caravan stuck between the railway tracks of the Parisian suburbs. Living with her husband Marcel and her sister Gabi, Stella attempts to patch up her life with the threads of exile and illness, love and memories… She eventually attempts a return, in an illegal minivan, to her homeland.

Short Intention
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Stella is a Romanian woman living with her husband in a shantytown located in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, alongside the Eurostar railway tracks. In order to survive, she begs in the metro - at the “Oberkampf” station.
Who is Stella? Why did she come to France? What did she leave behind in Romania? How did she adapt to living in a shantytown? How did she come to the decision to beg? What does she want out of life, what are her projects... her dreams? As I asked myself these questions, I decided to go and film her. I completely immersed myself into Stella’s life. Determined not to fall into quaint clichés, I took all the time I needed to translate her reality into images. I offered her a space within which to
express herself and she has occupied it in an honest, subtle, sensitive manner. And so Stella allowed me to touch on the myth of the Eastern European immigrant to better deconstruct it.
STELLA is at the same time the story of a worker baffled by the chaotic history of her home country, of a lover endangering her own life in order to save that of her man, of an immigrant rejected but cured by her country of ‘refuge’... and, above all, STELLA is the story of an ordinary woman, a woman like us, who never stops dreaming.

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