Lina Soualem: Their Algeria

Skrevet den 30-10-2020 10:23:16 af Tue Steen Müller

Lina Soualem: Their Algeria

You don’t know if she is crying or laughing. The grandmother of the director, who came to France from Algeria with her husband in the fifties. She is born in 1937, the two were married for 62 years, then decided to divorce but they are still living quite close to each other. She is still cooking for him, bringing the food, taking care of him, she is active, but she has decided to have her own life for the time she has left.

He is rarely speaking, moves slowly, watches tv and goes to the local cafeteria to just sit there the whole day – according to his wife, who is no longer his wife, but they are still husband and wife as says the director’s father, an actor in numerous films and before that a mime artist. The daughter uses her father to help reveal the past of the grandparents. She wants to know her roots, wants them to tell. It works very well. The film creates a fine atmosphere.

The film is built around the conversations mixed with footage that the father has shot in 1992. Lovely footage that includes Algerian parties with song and dance. Slowly we get closer to the grandfather and the scoop is when the director, the granddaughter, shows material that she shot in their village in Algeria. Grandfather’s face changes expression and he is proud of her filming there. The former cutler in Thiers. Who with his wife left Algeria. They wanted to come back but the war came with all its atrocities.

They remember, grandmother first of all remembers. You ask too many questions, Lina…she covers her face with her hands and we don’t know if the lively old woman is crying or laughing. 

It’s of course a film about the destiny of Algerian immigrants coming to France, about colonialism but it has a universality: Did we have/do we have the talks with our grandparents before it is too late. I envy the director, I never met my grandparents and there are so many questions I will never get answers to as my parents are no longer alive. This film made me think.

France, 2020, 70 mins.

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