Algerian film “Road to Istanbul”, screened on Tuesday night, as part of the official competition of the 19th edition of the African Film Festival of Khouribga (FCAK) (16-23 July) immerses the audience in the ferocity of Islamist indoctrination of a young girl and the suffering of her mother whose life changes after the departure of her daughter for jihad in Syria.
The film by Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb tells the story of a nurse, Elizabeth, and her daughter Ella, aged 19, living alone in their house at the edge of a secluded lake in Belgium. Both seem to evolve in an apparent tranquility. When her daughter does not return from a weekend that she should have spent with her best friend revising her examinations, Elizabeth thinks it’s no big deal. She is more worried when she learns that Elodie would have left for Cyprus with her friend Kader Slimani. The assumption of an unannounced holiday is quickly dismissed when the police informs Elizabeth that her daughter had converted to Islam and that she would follow her lover to fight with him in Syria. Completely distraught, Elizabeth cannot come to terms with the inevitable and take off on her own to Turkey to find her daughter.
The viewer is perplexed by this girl who sends messages with religious connotation on Facebook. She is calm, organised but seems determined to break definitely with her circle of acquaintances. The mother, absorbed in her work, is not necessarily attentive to the behaviour of her daughter. It is in small doses that she finds her way to religious radicalism, and the viewer with her.
The 109-min film rests entirely on the beautiful and strong shoulders of Astrid Whettnall (Elizabeth), who manages without hysteria or granstanding, to make palpable the great distress of her character and the shift may be beneficial which compels the radical choice of her daughter. In fragile and determined counterpoint, Pauline Burlet (Elodie) embodies the painful mystery that is, for a parent, the fact of seeing her child so brutally sever all ties with her.
After beginning his career on French television, Bouchareb directed his first feature film “Baton Rouge” in 1985. He is known for his committed films addressing the themes of memory and history, the search for identity, modernity and tradition.
In all, fifteen films will compete in the official competition of the 19th edition of the African Film Festival in Khouribga ending on July 23.
The jury of the official competition, chaired by French sociologist and philosopher Edgar Morin alongside African filmmakers and journalists, will decide between the films competing from 12 countries, in this case, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Algeria, Guinea , Rwanda, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin and Morocco.
Among the films in competition are in particular “La route d’Istanbul” by the Franco-Algerian director and producer Rachid Bouchareb, ”Dicta Shot ” (Ksar el Dahcha) by the Tunisian Mokhtar Ladjimi, ”La lune est tombée” by the Guinean Gahité Fofana, “Avant la cohue de l’été” (Before the Summer Crowds) by the Egyptian Mohamed Khan, “Fille de sa mère” co-directed by the Burkinabe Carine Bado and Armel Sawadogo, “Starve your dog ” , “A mile in my shoes” and “Fidaa” by the Moroccan Hicham Lasri directors, Said Khallaf and Driss Chouika, respectively and ”Le retour du Roi” by Roger Nahum (Benin-Morocco).
By Hajar Erraji (MAP)