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Crítica: Six pieds sur Terre


- Karim Bensalah ofrece un primer largometraje original, instructivo y conmovedor sobre el tema clásico de la búsqueda de la identidad propia y del paso a la adultez

Crítica: Six pieds sur Terre
Hamza Meziani y Kader Affak en Six pieds sur Terre

Este artículo está disponible en inglés.

“Stop pretending everything is fine. You’re scared. You have to expose yourself, reveal yourself a little.” Growing up can sometimes be difficult and, anxious about the prospect of jumping into the hot waters of life, the eternal students often find refuge behind various excuses in order to avoid facing themselves, a confrontation that isn’t easy since, in truth, they don’t know who they are. This situation, common to many young people and which we could call an existential milestone, is all the more complicated when confusing questions about national and social class identity get added to it. Such is the intelligent frame in which Karim Bensalah (French filmmaker with an Algerian father and a Brazilian mother) has set his first feature, Six Feet Over, noticed in competition at the Cinemed in Montpellier and at the Premiers Plans Festival in Angers, winner of the Best screenplay award at the Red Sea Film Festival and which Jour2Fête will launch in French theatres on 19 June.

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“Where are you from” – Nowhere”. Sofiane (Hamza Meziani) likes to assert his cosmopolitan side, his younger years spent in the trail of his diplomat father. Italy, New York, Venezuela, France, Senegal: the dilettante Lyon student has no inclination towards his paternal origins (“all your Arab, Algerian, Kabyle stuff, it annoys me”). But a letter calls everything into question: Sofiane, whose studies have dragged on for too long (from course changes to failed exams), has 30 days to leave France. The only way to avoid the Damocles' dagger of expulsion is to find a job contract. And so our anti-hero finds himself in a Muslim funeral home in Roubaix, directed by a cousin of his father’s. There, the “newbie” is placed in the hands of the experienced Hadj (Kader Affak) who talks very little, “but thinks no less.” Very reticent, Sofiance discovers a world of rituals that he knew nothing about. He also meets a girl, but his initiatory journey, his personal questioning and his relearning of how to pay attention to others, to listen and to communicate, are only just starting and won’t happen without pain.

“You don’t do anything, you just watch.” Just like this first order by Hadj to Sofiane, Six Feet Over plunges the viewer into the heart of a funeral ritual where the washing of the deceased person's body and its wrapping in a white sheet take on a sensually soft dimension that sweeps away all prejudices. This very unusual profession echoes Sofiane’s trajectory of rebirth (“death doesn’t belong to anyone. What to do when the individual’s wishes are in contradiction with his ancestors’ traditions?”), who is painfully looking for his place in the world between inner torment, solitude and self-fulfilling passivity. These knots get untied throughout the simple yet very finely written story, writing by Bensalah and Jamal Belmahi, a laconic narrative that nevertheless knows to breathe when necessary and reveals a lot about what is at the foundation of human respect, and about the need not to judge “people, be they dead or alive.” An initiation between the material (the corpses, the morgue, the police station, the car journeys, the meals between colleagues or family, etc.) and the spiritual, which the mise en scene subtly reflects (through modest means) with particularly delicate work by Pierre-Hubert Martin in the photography.

Six Feet Over was produced by Tact Production and co-produced by Les Films du Bilboquet. International sales are handled by The Party Film Sales.

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(Traducción del francés)

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