STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Starting this week, Netflix revisits an attack on Paris. In November 2015, gunmen attacked a theater and other locations. A new documentary about the attacks is called "Fluctuat Nec Mergitur." There's a story behind that French title that reflects the larger story of Paris. Here's reporter Jake Cigainero.
(SOUNDBITE OF JACQUES DUTRONC SONG, "IL EST CINQ HEURES, PARIS S'EVEILLE")
JAKE CIGAINERO, BYLINE: The riveting three-part documentary opens with the sun coming up over Paris on November 13, 2015 - just another day, the documentary seems to suggest. But it wasn't. That evening, nine terrorists attacked the stadium outside Paris, six cafes and the Bataclan music venue. Survivors, alongside firemen, police and former President Francois Hollande give chilling, minute-by-minute accounts of the chaos as they lived it. French filmmaker Jules Naudet said the documentary borrows part of its title from Paris' Latin motto, fluctuat nec mergitur, which means...
JULES NAUDET: Moved by the sea but never sunk, which represented, I think, the people and that night.
CIGAINERO: Naudet and his brother, co-director Gedeon Naudet, understand watching three hours of terrorism can be a turnoff. But their message, Jules says, is hope and resilience.
NAUDET: We wanted to convey that the moment where you see the worst of humanity, the best is always present and is always stronger. We need that. There is a hunger for that humanity and that beauty, even at the worst places.
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CIGAINERO: That night, gunmen burst into a rock concert at the Bataclan and went on a shooting rampage. They also took 11 hostages in an hours-long standoff with police. The thrust of the documentary follows the harrowing experience of these hostages. This part of the attacks has never been told so comprehensively. Six of the 11 hostages share their stories, from the moment they say goodbye to their families as they leave for a concert to the final police assault and, finally, their lives today. They recount being forced to help the attackers and how they formed bonds with total strangers to survive. Here, a woman - only identified as Marie in the documentary - also talks about surreal moments of unexpected humor, such as the terrorist using her phone to talk to police.
(SOUNDBITE OF DOCUMENTARY, "NOVEMBER 13: ATTACK ON PARIS")
MARIE: (Through interpreter) My phone case is a smiling green whale, so seeing this guy who has killed I don't know how many people holding that was funny - but not, because on the screen is a photo of my daughters.
CIGAINERO: The Naudets say this is their most personal project since their Emmy-winning documentary "9/11." They were making a film about a Manhattan fire brigade at the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center. As survivors, Jules says the "November 13" documentary is a continuation of their own therapy, and he hopes it will help others who have lived through attacks around the world.
NAUDET: Terrorism has no borders anymore, and so I think it will speak to people who survive in Texas, in New York and all that, or in London or in Madrid or in Barcelona. I think it talks to all of us.
CIGAINERO: For NPR News, I'm Jake Cigainero in Paris.
(SOUNDBITE OF POPPY ACKROYD SONG, "RAIN")
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