Madame Courage: psychoactive drugs and teenagers for Merzak Allouache
by Fabien Lemercier
- This week, the filmmaker, a regular at the major festivals, will wrap the shoot for his new movie, produced by Neon Productions and Baya Films
The day after tomorrow will see the final clapperboard slam in Mostaganem for the shooting of the 14th fiction feature film by Merzak Allouache, the Franco-Algerian co-production Madame Courage [+see also:
film profile]. Allouache has featured regularly on the programmes of the major festivals ever since his debut film, Les aventures d'un héros (the Berlinale Forum 1979), with Un amour à Paris (winner of the award in the Perspectives of French Cinema section at Cannes in 1987), Bab el Oued City (unveiled on the Croisette, in Un Certain Regard, in 1994), Harragas (selected at Venice Days in 2009), The Repentant [+see also:
interview: Merzak Allouache
film profile] (popular at the Directors’ Fortnight 2012) and The Rooftops [+see also:
interview: Merzak Allouache
film profile] (in competition last year at Venice). According to Cineuropa’s sources, this time the filmmaker has assembled a cast of young newcomers, including Adlan Djemil et Lamia Bezouaoui.
Written by the director, the story revolves around Omar, a solitary, unstable teenager who lives in a slum in the suburbs of Mostaganem. He is addicted to the renowned psychoactive drugs that have garnered the nickname “Madame Courage”: Artane pills that are very popular with young Algerians because of their mood-enhancing effect that makes the user feel invincible. As usual that morning, adept bag-snatcher Omar goes to commit his crimes in the city centre. His first victim is Selma, a young girl who is out walking with her friends and is wearing a gold necklace – in full view of everyone. As he commits his crime, Omar exchanges glances with Selma...
With production outsourced to Antonin Dedet for Neon Productions and Merzak Allouache for Baya Films, Madame Courage is supported by the CNC’s World Cinema Support and by the FDATIC (the Algerian Ministry of Culture), among other backers. The shoot, which kicked off on 15 October, has taken place entirely in Mostaganem, Algeria. Distribution in France and international sales are being negotiated.
Neon Productions currently has two movies in post-production that were co-produced with South Korea: Black Stone by Gyeong-Tae Roh (who was in the Berlinale Forum in 2009 with Land of Scarecrows) and Lotus Bus by Jeon Soo-Il (selected in Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 1997 with Wind Echoing in My Being and at Venice in 2007 with La petite fille de la terre noire, among other festival selections). The in-development projects by the Paris-based outfit include Une fée dans le rétro by French filmmaker Jean-François Stévenin and Transit by German director Christian Petzold (in co-production with Schramm Film), the story of which begins in Paris in 1940, just as the Germans are arriving. The movie recounts the misfortunes of a man who assumes the identity of someone who has committed suicide; he then sets off for Marseille, where he crosses paths with the dead man’s wife.
(Translated from French)