In Paris, in 1942. Arrested by the French police, Younes is accused of complicity and threatened with being shot. But the police detective offers him a deal: his freedom in exchange for keeping surveillance over the Paris Mosque, which is suspected of helping Resistance fighters and Jews. In the Mosque, Younes meets Algerian-born singer Salim Halali. Touched by his voice and personality, he becomes friends with him, discovering soon afterwards that he is Jewish. Despite the risks, Younes puts an end to his collaboration with the police. A friendship is born between Younes and Salim, which develops as events unfold. Anti-Jewish laws and German repression don’t prevent Salim from continuing his activities as a singer. But the net gradually tightens around him. One evening, Salim is arrested by the Gestapo who suspect him of hiding his Jewish identity. Faced with this barbarity, immigrant worker Younes, who has no political education, gradually turns into a freedom activist. –Cineuropa
Ismael Ferroukhi was born in Kenitra, Morocco. After directing his first short film, L’Exposé, which premiered at Cannes in 1993, Ferroukhi co-wrote the script for Cédric Kahn’s feature film Trop de Bonheur (1994). In 1995, Ferroukhi wrote and directed the short film L’Inconnu, and went on to direct two films for television––Akim (1997) and Petit Ben (1998). Le Grand Voyage (2004) is his first feature-length film. —Africultures
This is the first time I've ever seen German-occupied France from the perspective of anyone other than white French/German/Americans in a film. The story is told through Younes (Rahim) but he is not the true hero. The title belongs to Benghabrit (Lonsdale) and Salim (Shalaby). Rahim manages to be empathetic and full in a story that is not truly his. Overall this film could have been more involving.
This year’s edition includes Rendez-Vous +, “a potpourri of recent French documentaries and rarely screened classics.”