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CANNES 2024 Quinzaine des Cinéastes

Critique : Vers un pays inconnu

par 

- CANNES 2024 : Le deuxième long-métrage de Mahdi Fleifel est un drame sur l’immigration empreint d’empathie, porté par l’excellente interprétation de Mahmood Bakri

Critique : Vers un pays inconnu
Aram Sabbah et Mahmood Bakri dans Vers un pays inconnu

Cet article est disponible en anglais.

For almost a decade now, the distance between Greece and Germany has been impossible to measure without factoring in human lives, stranded family members and constant efforts to live a migrant’s life as if it was any other. Danish-Palestinian filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel’s To a Land Unknown [+lire aussi :
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interview : Mahdi Fleifel
fiche film
]
is born of this traumatic legacy, and sees cousins Chatila (Mahmood Bakri) and Reda (Aram Sabbah) trying to get out of the limbo that is their squat life in Athens. The pipe dream includes fake passports and plane tickets to Germany, so they do whatever they can to make it happen. They work and they steal – as soon as the film begins, we see them team up to snatch a lady’s bag in the park – but their predicament is one that can exist outside of the conventional moral frameworks. As the only Palestinian film at Cannes, To a Land Unknown screened as part of the Directors’ Fortnight programme.

(L'article continue plus bas - Inf. publicitaire)

Chatila and Reda have fled a refugee camp in Lebanon, having left behind Chatila’s wife and son, who call him every night to share a few moments of intimacy without thinking about borders or money. Reda has no family of his own, but he struggles with addiction: an unforgivable peril that plagues the most vulnerable, offering a promise of temporary escape. This is the one point of dispute between the cousins and their almost indestructible bond; one day, the cash they have been saving up is gone, and Reda is high again. It’s important to note that Fleifel never allows a forced narrative outcome or feigned line delivery, even when the plot’s first obstacle comes so close to a cliché. On the contrary, the film stands out with its unwavering commitment to truth, people and their real lives. Fleifel’s kind of social realism here is more authentic than many documentaries about similar themes, keeping in mind that his own documentary feature A World Not Ours [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
fiche film
]
came out in 2012 and dealt with exile across generations.

Fleifel wrote the script together with Fyzal Boulifa (director of Lynn + Lucy [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
interview : Fyzal Boulifa
fiche film
]
) and Jason McColgan (writer of Kindred [+lire aussi :
critique
bande-annonce
fiche film
]
), inspired by Midnight Cowboy’s street-thriller edge, but To a Land Unknown does not need the help of any references to make an impact. It is a film so quietly adept – with both gritty sequences and visual poetry of the highest order by cinematographer Thodoris Mihopoulos – that its formal accomplishments never have to compete for the viewer’s attention against the narrative spiral of unfortunate happenings, so typical for the genre.

When Chatila comes up with an elaborate plan to recover the cash needed for their escape, the film’s pacing accelerates by the minute, as every small hitch may bring deportation or death. At that moment, a lady comes into the picture: a tipsy Greek woman with a loud laugh called Tatiana (Angeliki Papoulia). Her involvement marks both the pinnacle of hope and the beginning of a downward spiral, but it is the relationship between Reda and Chatila that fuels the film with humanistic empathy. With its authenticity and the strong lead performances by Bakri and Sabbah, To a Land Unknown has already raised the bar for films of its kind, and will remain an example of a fiction feature-length debut that is both urgent and accomplished.

To a Land Unknown is a UK-French-German-Greek-Dutch-Qatari-Saudi-Palestinian co-production staged by Inside Out Films and Nakba FilmWorks, in co-production with Salaud Morisset, Homemade Films, Studio Ruba, ZDF/ARTE & ZDF/DKF, ERΤ SA, Metafora Production and the Red Sea Fund. Salaud Morisset also handles the film’s world sales.

(L'article continue plus bas - Inf. publicitaire)

(Traduit de l'anglais)

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