This project explains the reinvention of earlier realist practices of depicting everyday lives of ordinary people for the globalized digital era. The cinéma du Nord is an exemplary instantiation of this global new realist tendency. I coin the cinéma du Nord as a transnational regional cinema rooted in the French North and the Belgian South. Once industrial centers, these regions suffered severe crises since the 1950s, when their coal mines were depleted and their industries superannuated. The cinéma du Nord should be understood in the context of the transition from an industrial economy to a postindustrial economy in which existence has become precarious for many. I argue that films such as Rosetta (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 1999) and L'humanité (Bruno Dumont, 1999) have emerged from the endeavor of Wallonia and the French North to reimagine themselves as European centers after decades of recession. Ultimately, I locate the cinéma du Nord within a wider wave of global new realism (e.g., the films of Jia Zhangke and Kelly Reichardt). I argue that in its most compelling forms the new realist humanism renders intelligible the question, "what is a life in the face of the waning power of traditional and modern institutions?"