Merwan, a 19-year-old beur, has been expelled from France and forced to return to Algeria, the country where he was born but where he is now an alien to the language and customs. His fellow nationals confiscate his passport and send him to the army; in the stuffy atmosphere of a desert military barracks, his fellow Algerians mercilessly remind him of his foreignness. He decides to escape this country that holds him against his will, only to return to the country that has rejected him, along the way discovering all the ironies of the myth of “homecoming.”
Born in the suburbs of Paris in 1953, Rachid Bouchareb began his career in film as an assistant director for French state television. In 1988, he started his own production company, 3B (with associate Jean Bréhat). He has worked as producer, screenwriter and director on a long list of titles. His debut feature, Bâton rouge, was released in 1985, earning the grand prize at the Amiens Film Festival. Produced for television, Raï (featuring superstar raï singer Cheb Khaled) followed. In 1991, he directed Cheb. Dust for Life (Poussière de vie) followed in 1994, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film in 1995. In 2001, he directed Little Senegal, starring rising star Roschdy Zem and Sotigui Kouyaté and featured in the 2001 Berlinale official competition. In 2006, he wrote and directed Days of Glory (Indigènes), starring Djamel Debbouze, one of France’s most famous comedians; it earned prizes at Cannes and the Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the Academy Awards. He has also produced a number of box-office and critically successful films, including Ziad Douéiri’s West Beirut (1998) and Bruno Domont’s L’Humanité (1999, Best Actor and Best Actress awards at Cannes).
Cast: Mourad Bounaas, Nozha Khouadra, Boualem Benani, Faouzi Saichi, Mohamed Nacef, Nadji Beida, Cheik Doukouré, Houari Bellamou, Yahia Benmabrouk, Thameur
Writers: Abdelkrim Bahloul, Rachid Bouchareb, Christian Zerbib
Producer: Jean Bréhat
Cinematographer: Youcef Sahraoui
Editor: Guy Lecorne
Music: Safy Boutella, Editions 3B