Arab Film Festival: THE BLESSED
October 14 only
Official Selection: Venice International Film Festival!
Algiers 2008. A city still reeling from fresh wounds left by a civil war that rocked the nation for a decade, ending in 2002. Its denizens in an ever-present state of mourning for the hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths that took place during the conflict referred to as “The Dirty War,” while protests, street demonstrations, and terrorist attacks rife the city with unease. In this world, and over the course of the next 24 hours: we meet Samir, a doctor who runs a neighborhood clinic, and his wife Amal, a college professor. Both were political dissidents during the war, and despite their activism and many friends who were slaughtered, managed to survive and raise a son, Fahim, now in his late teens thinking about where to go for college. While Samir unswervingly holds onto hope for his country, wanting Fahim to remain, Amal has other plans and encourages him to study abroad in Paris, jaded towards any prospect of Algeria finding lasting peace. Meanwhile, Fahim and his scrappy best friends, Feriel and Reda, thirst for excitement in a hostile city where a walk down the street amidst paranoid cops and extremist zealots at the wrong place at the wrong time can mean a trip to jail… or… worse. Feriel, who lives with her father and gay brother, seeks to break up the monotony of her day-to-day routine of school and housework, and sneaks out at night to get a taste of the city, while Reda, a pious punkrock boy and “Taqwacore” musician, finds himself tempted by radical viewpoints in the wake of a post-war milieu that complicates the teen angst bubbling inside of him.
On the day of Samir and Amal’s 20th wedding anniversary as they party with friends and look for a place to have dinner, the adventure of the teens likewise unfolds, the arcs of each character moving into and informing the story of the next, in Algerian writer/director Sofia Djama’s debut feature The Blessed (Les Bienheureux). Sprinkling deep focus extreme wide shots of the city throughout the diegesis, Djama situates her characters in a world where everything is apparently “exposed,” yet, at the same time surging with the unknown, specifically when it comes to how two generations cope the with after-effects of war.
Screened in the official selections of the 2017 Venice International Film Festival and the 2017 Dubai International Film Festival where it won the Best Director: Muhr Feature Prize. Screened at the 2018 Cannes Critics Awards.
Born in Oran, Sofia Djama moved to Algiers to complete her Bachelor degree in Literature. In the early 2000s, she began writing a collection of short stories in which Algiers was to serve as the main protagonist of each plot. A Flabby Saturday Morning (2011), an adaptation of one of them, was her first short film. It was widely acclaimed and received two awards in Clermont Ferrand. This encouraged her to pursue her ambition in the film industry. From then on, she devoted herself to writing her first feature film, The Blessed.
For more information, please visit the Arab Film Festival website.
Directed by Sofia Djama. 102 min. DCP. Algeria. 2017.
NOTE FILMS START RIGHT AT THE LISTED SHOWTIME. Roxie Theater trailers play during the 30 minutes prior to showtime.
Arab Film Festival: THE BLESSED: Upcoming Showtimes