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“Half of the people of Marseille were not born in Marseille”

In “Once upon a time Marseille”, Hugues Nancy tells Marseille from the Greeks to today. Its diversity, its independent character, its several waves of immigration, the underworld, the French connection, but also its occupation by the Nazis and its particular culture, made up of football and rap. The documentary airs on Wednesday April 6 on France 3.

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Clara Luciani slips into the skin of the city of Marseille and speaks in the first person in this documentary. From the foundation by Greeks to the construction of HLMs in the northern district, it tells us 2,600 years of history, first marked by the many waves of immigration as Hugues Nancy explains: “At the start of the 20th century, there were 100,000 Italians. Or one in four Marseilles. There were several waves, the first and most important being the Italians, who built the city under Napoleon III. Added to this were the Armenians, Jews, White Russians. And a new wave with the end of the colonies in the 1960s.”

Marseille will always be rebellious, and often the State will be wary of the city starting with Louis XIV: “At the beginning of his young reign, he wanted to seize power in Marseilles, sent 7,000 soldiers, pulled out the cannons, destroyed the main gate and had Fort Nicolas built, the cannons of which were turned both outwards to protect the city ​​and inland in case these independent Marseillais want to rebel.”

The choice to tell this story was made naturally: “As Marseille was the heroine of the film, I said to myself: let Marseille be told by Marseille, like an immortal 2,600-year-old goddess. And for this choice to work, I wanted to take a step aside, and I I chose Clara Luciani who spent her childhood in Septème-les-Vallons on the edge of the northern districts and who has a very beautiful voice.”

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