Filmmaker Ladj Ly is a native of Montfermeil (Seine-Saint-Denis), best known for his attention-grabbing web documentaries that depict the realities of social and political life. He began his career as an actor and member of Kourtrajmé, a collective created in 1995 by his childhood friends, directors Kim Chapiron and Romain Gavras. Ly went on to direct his first short film, Montfermeil Les Bosquets in 1997. In 2004, he co-wrote the documentary 28 Millimeters with renowned photographer JR, best known for his large format street photographs posted on the walls of Clichy, Montfermeil and Paris. After the 2005 Paris riots, Ladj was triggered by the death of two youths, Zyed Benna and Bouna Traoré, who were hiding in an electricity substation in Clichy-sous-Bois, and he decided to film his neighborhood for a year to make a documentary entitled 365 Days in Clichy-Montfermeil (2007).
He continued his work on documentaries, and in 2014 directed 365 Days In Mali, which spotlighted a region in turmoil where militias and Tuaregs were preparing for war. In 2017, he directed his first short film, Les Misérables, which was César nominated in 2018 and a prize-winner at the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival. That same year, he and director/writer Stéphane de Freitas co-directed the documentary A Voix Haute, also nominated for a César award. Les Misérables is Ly’s first feature film, inspired by his original short.