Friday, October 27, 2006
Film: Beur, Blanc, Rouge
This is the title of the film I saw tonight as part of the Arabian Sights Film festival in DC. It's by Algerian director Mahmoud Zemmouri.
It's a comdey about young Algerians in France. The main character is handsome, unemployed Ibrahim. He is living in anticipation of the soccer match between Algeria and France. Of course, he's rooting for Algeria, but he's never been there and he doesn't speak Arabic. One of the funniest scenes is his insistence on singing the Algerian national anthem at the stands before the match even though he doesn't know all the words. But when Ibrahim is stopped by a policeman because he's flying three Algerian flags on his car, he shouts back that he's French. He also re-discovers his Frenchness when he attempts to enter Algeria with his French passport with no visa. The film deals with Ibrahim's dual identity lightly, as befits a comedy. Ibrahim is apolitical (he refuses to go the mosque where he could get free tickets to the soccer match and free jerseys donated by Zem Zem Cola), lost, and stuck without any prospects. To convince him to go to Algeria, his mother yells at him at some point: "your name is Ibrahim and you have this face and you think you will get anywhere in France?" The film almost ran out of steam by the end (after the match) but not quite. It was a pleasure for me to watch it in a theatre full of an appreciatvie audience who got the humor and laughed at all the right places. The supporting characters, especially Ibrahim's friends and family, were all funny. The music reflected the theme of hybrid identity well.