by Merzak Allouache
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Bab el-Oued, a working-class neighborhood of Algiers. On one side the bay, on the other the city. While time is marked by the muezzin’s call to prayer, five stories intersect, even if only for a moment, on the same number of terraces over the course of a whole day. A man is tortured because he doesn’t want to sign a mysterious document, under the cynical gaze of someone who is in reality very close to him. Only the little girl of an intransigent family tries to have a “normal” relationship with her uncle, shut up in a cage on the roof for reasons kept secret. The owner of the building disappears after having attempted once again to expel an old woman who is living illegally on the terrace—a decidedly peculiar former police officer investigates. A group of young men uses the roof for rehearsals prior to a musical performance, until the tragedy of a young woman is acted out on the adjacent terrace. At the least opportune moment, a small television crew finds itself in the wrong place.