Abdellatif Kechiche – La Faute à Voltaire aka Blame It on Voltaire (2000)


Winner of the Golden Lion for first feature, Poetical Refugee is the story of Jallel, a North African immigrant in Paris. Claiming to be a refugee from war-torn Algeria in order to get residency, his life in the country of ‘liberty, equality and fraternity’ is one of homeless shelters, illegal jobs, assumed identities and emotionally complex sexual relationships. Director Abdel Kechiche, who was born in Tunisia and has worked for many years as an actor in France, refuses to portray Jallel as either hapless victim or angry rebel. Instead, he focuses on Jallel’s interpersonal relationships with his new community-not ghettoized North Africans, but an eclectic group of unemployed French and second-generation immigrants struggling to survive. Here, it is the wounded who heal the wounded, and Jallel, in spite of his own traumas, becomes a healing force for the emotionally troubled women whose lives intermingle with his. With superb performances by Sami Bouajila (Bye Bye), Aure Atika and Elodie Bouchez (The Dream Life of Angels), Poetical Refugee offers a moving and tender portrayal of life on the margins.



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