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Named after the Soviet cosmonaut, Cité Gagarine is a housing project in the suburbs of Paris – and slated for demolition. But not if 16-year-old Youri (Alséni Bathily) can help it. To Youri, this is home, and if no one else is going to carry out the repairs to safeguard the building, he’ll do it himself, one light bulb at a time. But for all his engineering prowess, the odds are against him – and most of his neigbours are happy to move. So it comes to pass that this young whizz kid creates his own space pod in the midst of ruin and abandonment, a beacon of hope for a better world…

Co-directors Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh began this project by interviewing youth like Youri about the fate of the Gagarine building. But instead of a documentary they have woven an inspiring and inspired magical realist fantasy, a spellbinding film melding authentic experience and dreamlike vision.

Wondrous… Marion Burger’s production design is a terrific melding of concrete-and-plaster banality with found-object artistry, while Victor Seguin’s camera alternates between weightless, spaced-out dreaminess and hard-gravity handheld as easily as breathing in then breathing out. And on the soundtrack, the graceful score, a collaboration between composers Evgueni and Sacha Galperine and Amine Bouhafa, layers music-box mysticism over softly scuzzy basslines and ascending electro drones only to be interrupted occasionally, eccentrically, by a dub style remix of Serge Gainsbourg or a track from English rap outfit the Streets.

Jessica Kiang, Variety

Gagarine is a pleasure – pure magic realism, a homespun spectacular.

Danny Leigh, Financial Times

[An] extraordinarily original, glowing debut feature.

Markie Robson-Scott The Arts Desk


Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh


Alséni Bathily, Lyna Khoudri, Jamil McCraven, Finnegan Oldfield, Farida Rahouadj, Denis Lavant

Country of Origin





In French with English subtitles


Geoblocked to British Columbia.

98 min

Book Tickets

Available May 20 to June 16
Screening Online Subtitles
VIFF Connect
Book Now



Julie Billy, Carole Scotta


Fanny Liatard, Jérémy Trouilh, Benjamin Charbit


Victor Séguin


Daniel Darmon