143 RUE DU DESERT is a portrait of Malika, an elderly woman who runs a rest-stop café on the side of National 1, Algeria’s main highway. Through the various patrons who stop for eggs, coffee or tea, we become intimately acquainted with this eccentric woman, whose opinions on a variety of subject matters entertain, enlighten, and baffle in equal measure. Most of the customers know her so well that we suspect they perhaps stop not for the tea, but for her company. The film almost never leaves the inside of her small café, which serves also as her home. However, with every new shot, Ferhani manages to reveal a new fragment of this minuscule space, which keeps the film surprisingly dynamic. Ferhani does not hold sway over Malika’s representation, which is one of the most satisfying elements of the film. Malika seems aware of her character’s cinematic construction, and even dares to contradict statements about her life from one moment to the next, in a scene that is as performative as any fiction. Even though the film provides us with real-time access to this woman’s world, she retains a sense of privacy, which is the main source of the film’s mystery. (Nico Pereda)Read More »
Hassen Ferhani – 143 rue du désert AKA 143 Sahara Street (2019)2011-2020AlgeriaDocumentaryHassen Ferhani
Yasmine Chouikh – Ila akher ezaman AKA Until the End of Time (2017)2011-2020AlgeriaDramaYasmine Chouikh
In the cemetery of Sidi Boulekbour, Ali the old gravedigger meets the 60-year-old Johar, who is visiting her sister’s grave for the first time after losing her husband. Johar wants her final resting place to be next to her sister, so she decides to organize her own funeral and asks Ali to help her. But preparations for the final journey go awry when Ali and Johar unexpectedly start to realize they have feelings for each other…Read More »
Mostafa Derkaoui – Ahdate bila dalala AKA De quelques événements sans signification AKA About Some Meaningless Events (1974)1971-1980AlgeriaArthouseMostafa Derkaoui
A team of filmmakers in search of a theme asks young residents of Casablanca about their expectations and their relationship to Moroccan cinema. When they witness a crime committed by a unsatisfied dock worker who accidentally kills his boss, they are interested in this particular case. The investigation of the motifs will encourage them to rethink their conception of cinema and the role of the artist in society.
Morocco’s government banned the film after its first and only screening in Paris, saying it was inappropriate for the Moroccan audience.Read More »
Farouk Beloufa – Nahla (1979)1971-1980AlgeriaDramaFarouk Beloufa
Synopsis and context
Produced by the algerian television, praised by critics but ignored by the audience, Nahla tells the story of Larbi, an algerian journalist who finds himself taken by surprise in the whirlpool of the events of the lebanese civil war, after the battle of Kfar Chouba in january 1975. By shooting Nahla three years later, with a script written with the collaboration of Rachid Boudjedra and Mouny Berrah, Farouk Beloufa says that he looked for a very raw realism in order to develop four stories in one: Larbi’s (the young male journalist), Maha’s and Hind’s (a female journalist and a female activist), and Nahla’s (a female singer). They all assists the construction of the myth of Nahla, the singer adulated by the Arab population. But Nahla loses her voice on stage, the atmosphere of crisis that reigns around her develops like an infection, while Beirut is under the attack of bombs. Larbi, while fascinated at the beginning, loses control, and gets himself in an inextricable situation.Read More »
Tariq Teguia – Gabbla AKA Inland (2008)2001-2010AlgeriaDramaPoliticsTariq Teguia
Malek is a reclusive topographer who accepts a commission to survey a remote part of western Algeria in order to extend the electrical grid. He arrives to find the area has been decimated by religious fundamentalists who have only recently cleared out. Malek meets the local police, the shepherds who are beginning to return, and villagers who invite him to a makeshift party. In the middle of the night, he is awakened by the sound of explosions. Not to worry, explains a local man. When the cicadas land in the sand, it’s enough to trigger off the buried booby-traps. But as Malek soon realizes, it isn’t cicadas setting off the mines, but refugees trying to reach the coast and a boat for Spain. The next day he finds a young woman, exhausted and terrified, hiding in a corner of his shack. Malek decides to drive her to the border, and together they set out toward some indeterminate vanishing point on the horizon. These present-day realities are interspersed with flashbacks to the idealistic political debates of his youth, and set against a soundtrack that mixes alternative rock, Nigerian Afrobeat, and Algerian Rai.Read More »
Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche – Bled Number One (2006)2001-2010AlgeriaArthouseDramaRabah Ameur-Zaïmeche
The word bled in Bled Number One, the title of Rabah Ameur-Zaimeche’s follow-up to his well-regarded debut Wesh-Wesh (What’s Going On?) in 2001, translates roughly as Hicksville. Which is precisely where Kamel ends up after being deported from France to Algeria, the land of his fathers, after doing time for robbery.
Bled is a finely observed slice of life shot in a low-key semi-documentary style. The latest in a run of French-made movies dealing with Franco-Algerian cross-currents, it speaks volumes about the conditions of life in today’s Algeria and should play well in festivals and in the Arabic-speaking world.Read More »
Tariq Teguia – Thwara Zanj AKA Zanj Revolution AKA Revolution Zendj (2013)Tariq Teguia2011-2020AlgeriaArthousePolitics
Ibn Battuta works as a journalist for an Algerian daily newspaper. While covering community clashes in Southern Algeria, he finds himself incidentally picking up the trail of long forgotten uprisings against the Abbasid Caliphate, back in 8th-9th century Iraq. For the purpose of his investigation he goes to Beirut, a city that used to embody the hopes and struggles of the Arab World…Read More »
Brahim Tsaki – Histoire d’une rencontre aka Hikayat liqa’ aka Tale of an Encounter (1983)1981-1990AlgeriaBrahim TsakiDramaRomance
The pure fire of silence
She’s playing tennis against the fence, she’s alone, with her back to the court, she takes a few steps to pick up a ball that has not been returned to her by this fence ; her steps, gestures and the sound of the ball in the racket are already making a kind of rhythm, a small ballet reduced to its simplest expression. The camera advances on the courtyard, crosses the gate, fixes itself on a torchiere in the distance. That’s the color of her hair.
Credits: still images and spitting fire have the same rhythm as her racket strikes, then the same rhythm as the shutter release of her camera which finds her in the second scene.Read More »
Ahmed Lallem – Elles AKA The Women (1966)1961-1970African CinemaAhmed LallemAlgeriaDocumentaryShort Film
This is another one from the Sarah Maldoror ouvre. She assisted director Lallem for this short documentary, and the two of them assistant-directed William Klein’s Festival Panafricain d’Alger (1970).
Description from DocumentaMadrid:
Maldoror works alongside Ahmed Lallem as his assistant director to show young Algerian teenage girls talking about their hopes and desires for the nascent country. The film is an important counterpart to The Battle of Algiers, a film on which Sarah Maldoror and Gillo Pontecorvo would also work together.Read More »