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BLACK NIGHTS 2016 First Feature Competition

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Paris La Blanche: A parable of migration and a search for one’s family

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- Lidia Terki's first feature deals with economic migration and what family can represent to a person

Paris La Blanche: A parable of migration and a search for one’s family
Tassadit Mandi in Paris La Blanche

Profound and touching, Lidia Terki's French production Paris La Blanche [+see also:
trailer
film focus
interview: Lidia Terki
film profile
]
is a film that impresses through its simplicity and heart, tackling the issue of immigration through a personal life story. It has just been screened in the First Feature Competition of the Black Nights Film Festival

Rekia (Tassadit Mandi) is a middle-aged Algerian woman, whose husband, Nour, was one of the many people who immigrated to France in the 1970s. After four years of not hearing a word from him, apart from the money he has been sending her, she decides to leave her village in order to find Nour and bring him back to his family and his homeland. The woman embarks on an adventure, crossing the Mediterranean Sea, and ending up lost in the streets of Paris, where she encounters people who help her in her quest. 

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Rekia is quiet and attentive, as she observes the other characters but does not intervene in any way. The audience gets a glimpse of their lives through her eyes, but never actually hears her opinion in relation to the people she encounters. However, she speaks loudest through her moments of silence, her eyes and gestures playing the main part in outlining her character and expressing her feelings. Although fairly shy and reserved, the woman is courageous on her journey to an unfamiliar place and tireless in her mission of searching for Nour, as her desire to find him is the force that drives her forward. Mandi’s performance is beyond reproach, and this is her first main role in a feature film after years of playing smaller parts in TV productions. Her remarkable face and expressive eyes are worthy of giving life to many more characters in the future.

Paris La Blanche is an impressive debut, which stemmed from the desire to tell a story about the “invisible people”, the immigrants who choose to live in poor conditions in order to send all their earnings to their families. However, it is not solely about those Algerians who moved to France in the 1970s after independence, but also about all the people who move away from their home countries.

Malik Brahimi’s camera work beautifully captures Rekia’s journey, lingering on the Mediterranean Sea, which, as novelist Nina Bouraoui mentions, used to separate France and Algeria, “like the Seine running through Paris”. However, the film does not distract the audience’s attention with unnecessary shots of Parisian landmarks, the camera’s focus remaining firmly on the characters and the relationships between them. 

Paris La Blanche is a film with many layers, which manages to teach without lecturing. It is a lesson about love, devotion, sacrifices and trust, about overcoming hardships and never giving up. It was produced by French company Day For Night Productions.

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