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Peur sur la ville, 2017

A web-series documentary about the legend of the sewer crocodiles.

10 episodes of 4 minutes each.

production Arte Creative France and Quark

Pauline Horovitz’s film titled Freaks, made in 2015, was produced by L’Espace Croisé, a contemporary art centre in Roubaix.  Freaks questions the origins of urban legends associated with the presence of wild animals in cities, such as crocodiles in sewers.  To produce this project, Pauline Horovitz started by compiling lots of news items about what are known in French as “NACs”, standing for Nouveaux Animaux de Compagnie—New Pets—, such as wild creatures, reptiles and spiders.  “In the form of a contemporary bestiary”, she tells us “the film shows how the boundary between the human and the animal is, in the case of the “New Pets”, not done away with but bypassed; how two territories, the wild and the domestic, the animal world and the urban world, come into contact or, more precisely, collide.” 


Pauline Horovitz’s investigations about the “New Pets” did not stop with this film Freaks.  The artist has been commissioned to make a 10-episode mini-series by ARTE Creative.  The title she has chosen, “Peur sur la ville/Fear Over the City” is borrowed from Henri Verneuil.  During a previous interview, the artist declared:  “The sequel to the next episode, which will deliver (or not) the key…  My films function like chapters or fragments of one and the same galaxy”.  She thus seems predisposed to the series genre and its sequenced narratives, which fill her with enthusiasm. 

From the film Freaks, 2015, to the web-series Peur sur la ville, 2017

At the origin of the urban legend about crocodiles in sewers lies an authentic news item:  the discovery of a Nile crocodile in the sewers of Paris in 1984.  How did it get there?  If there is one crocodile, there may be others…  How many wild beasts are hiding in the bowels of the city?  A wacky investigation undertaken by a Parisian woman suffering from phobias, but who is seeking help, guided by terrarium owners, herpetologists and people who make professional pipework. 


The series mixes real shots, pictures filmed with a Smartphone, and amateur videos gleaned on the Internet.  These latter are accepted as such in the editing (by keeping the cursor and the reading bar visible), in an endless duplication, because the series is intended to be seen online.  PH

Episode 1:  In the sewer

The investigator can’t stand small creatures and is frightened of larger ones.  She thought she was safe in the city, until she learned of the existence of crocodiles in sewers.

Episode 2:  In the toilet

After crocodiles in sewers, snakes in toilets.  Who should one call first, the fireman or the plumber?  Should one tap one’s foot while waiting for help? 

Episode 3:  At home

A crocodile at home, instructions for use.  A meeting with Croc and its master, who is one of those rare people to hold a certificate entitling him to keep a crocodile in his own home.

Episode 4:  In bed

The story of the serpent who grew bigger and bigger in order to devour its mistress:  true or false?  Opinions are divided.

Episode 5:  On the road

Travels, travels:  after the sewers of Paris, the giant squid located in the Thames and crocodiles seen in the Vosges.  Then to Florida, where crocodiles run along freeways, and to New Caledonia. 

Episode 6:  On the Internet

Crocodiles on leashes, a manicured baby alligator, a tiger eating pizza, a cat dressed up as a shark…  and the art of vacuum cleaning without scaring the crocodile.

Episode 7:  In the box

How to clean the glass sides of a terrarium, especially when its occupant is a tarantula.

A squabble about a bag of dried food.

Episode 8:  In water

How to catch an alligator when you don’t have a net?  Could you make do with a broom or a dog’s lead?  A meeting with the man who found the crocodile in the sewers. 

Episode 9:  In photos

How do you prefer your cayman, barbecued or in a soup? 

Episode 10:  The encounter

Encounter with the sewer crocodile.  What has it been doing for 32 years? 

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