“Les Miserables” has made a lot of money for a lot of people since Victor Hugo wrote it in the French suburb of Montfermeil in 1862: book publishers, filmmakers and Broadway producers for starters. But when first-time feature director Ladj Ly decided to borrow Hugo’s title and setting for a modern-day look at the struggles between the underclass and law enforcement in today’s Montfermeil, he found that the Hugo connection didn’t help him at all.

“One of the main challenges was to finance the movie,” Ly told TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven through a translator at the Wrap Screening Series presentation of “Les Miserables” on Wednesday night at the Landmark in West Los Angeles.

“When you start to do a movie about this kind of community and misery, people are not really ready to give you money. The budget was supposed to be 3 million Euro ($333,1350), but we could only raise 1 million Euro ($1,110,255) to do it.”

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