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The Downtown Project

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Seventeen hundred tenants from 70 different countries, with an average household income of $12,000, in a series of buildings covering almost a square kilometre: Les Habitations Jeanne-Mance is the largest social housing complex in Quebec. Built in 1959 where the red-light district used to be, just a stone’s throw from Montreal’s bustling Sainte-Catherine Street and Saint Lawrence Boulevard, it has retained something of the area’s seedy reputation for poverty, prostitution, drugs and violence. But who really knows the projects and the people who live there? Delving beneath the prejudices and stereotypes, director Isabelle Longtin ventured inside and met the residents. The result is The Downtown Project, a documentary that reveals a complex multi-ethnic reality made up of compelling personal stories and social movements. Grappling with the stresses of immigration and cultural integration, the projects’ diverse inhabitants pride themselves on the sense of community they share.

2011, 52 min 03 s

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