After 62 years of living together, Aïcha and Mabrouk, my grandparents, are separating. They now live in two separate buildings, facing each other. I didn’t understand their separation. No one explained it to me. I don’t know their story. No one told it to me. Their silence troubled me.
Aïcha and Mabrouk got married in 1952, in the village of Laouamer in Algeria, without knowing each other. Two years later, they settled in Thiers, a small medieval French town where they have been living for over 60 years. Mabrouk worked his entire life as a polisher in a knife-making factory. Aïcha followed a husband she did not know, to an unknown country, and started a family with him.
As I try to understand their separation, it leads me back to Algeria and to the silence that exile has imposed on two generations: my father’s and mine. I discover the persistent suffering of their uprooting. An uprooting they can’t put a word on. With them, and with the help of my father Zinedine, I’m off to search for this story of exile, of bonds that are unmade, of suffering and pride – which profoundly affected my grandparents and an entire generation of Algerians who immigrated to France.
SCREENINGS & AWARDS
2020 World Premiere: Visions du Réel
2020 International Premeire: Rome Film Festival
2020 CINEMED Montpeliere (French Premiere)
Upcoming: El Gouna Film Festival (MENA Premiere), IDFA (November 18-29), DOK. Leipzig – International Competition (October 26 – November 1), Festival Les Écrans Documentaires Arcueil
Filming those who are close: family, lovers, mascots… is one of the most widespread cinematographical genres. How can we make this seemingly private subject into a universal one?
2020 International Premiere
- The project is supported by several labs & grants in Europe and the MENA region: Bejaïa Film Lab in Algeria, Fidadoc in Morroco, the French Institute of Algiers, Takmil Award at Cartage Cinema Days in Tunisia, the IMS Grant at the Arab Women Filmmakers rough-cut workshop in Cairo, the Docs In Progress Award in Cannes Film Market Doc Corner and the Imaginarium prize at the Malmo Arab Film Festival Market. The project is also supported by Cinephilia Bound Cannes (a US based filmmakers incubator) through which it received the “Best Pitch award” in Cannes 2019.
- Apart from these festival supports, “Their Algeria” received a post-production grant from the Doha Film Institute.
DIRECTOR’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Lina Soualem is a French-Palestinian-Algerian filmmaker and actress, born and based in Paris. After studying History and Political Science at La Sorbonne University, she started working in journalism and as a programmer in film festivals, looking to combine her interests for cinema and the study of contemporary Arab societies. Lina worked as a programmer for the International Human Rights Film Festival in Buenos Aires and the Palest’In & Out Festival in Paris, among others. In 2019, Lina’s debut feature documentary Their Algeria, produced by AGAT Films & Ciereceived the Best Doc-in-progress award at the Doc Corner in Cannes Festival. Their Algeria was selected to premierein Visions du Réel International Film Festival 2020. These past years, Lina acted in three feature films directed by Hafsia Herzi, Hiam Abbass and Rayhana. She is currently developing her second feature documentary and works as an author and assistant director on other film projects.
Director of Bye Bye Tiberias, Documentary (in development)
Director of Their Algeria, Documentary, 72’, Visions du Réel 2020
Actress in You Deserve a lover, directed by Hafsia Herzi, Semaine de la critique Cannes, 2019
Director of The Algerian flag & Les archives numériques du Cinéma Algérien, AJ+ / Al Jazeera, 3’, 2019
Actress in I Still Hide to Smoke, directed by Rayhana, produced by Michèle Ray Gavras (KG Productions), 2015
Second assistant Director in Malgré la Nuit, directed by Phillipe Grandrieux, 2014
Programmer for the Human Rights Film Festival in Buenos Aires, 2013
Actress in Inheritance, directed by Hiam Abbass, Venice Film Festival, 2012
I come from a generation that grew up in the deafening silence of the Algerian War, a generation born to grandparents who apparently had “no story”. But in fact, to grandparents who were terribly silent. Nobody ever told me about their lives – except for a few anecdotes that were always rehashed – as if to hide the naked and poignant truth. Their recent separation, after 62 years of living together, was an electroshock and was the inciting moment that triggered my desire to make this film. I was submerged with fear when they separated and I realized they could disappear. The imminence of their disappearance would be synonymous with the impossibility of knowing their story. Making this film became a necessity. It became vital for me to understand where I come from and to understand my family’s place in the history of Algeria, and France, the country in which I was born. As their granddaughter – I am the most suitable person to enter their intimacy. Their intimacy becomes a mirror of the collective history: their story sheds a light on a part of the Algerian immigration history in France. Them – who are from Algeria and far from one another.
A film by Lina Soualem
Produced by Marie Balducchi • AGAT Films & Cie
Photography & sound Lina Soualem
Editing and artistic collaboration Gladys Joujou
Sound design Julie Tribout & Rémi Durel • Studio Obsidienne
Color grading Christophe Bousquet
Co-producers Making of Films (Algeria), AKKA Films (Switzerland),
Doha Film Institute (Qatar), Al Jazeera Documentary Channel
Distribution France JHR Films
PRODUCER’S BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Associate Producer at AGAT Films & Cie/Ex Nihilo, Marie Balducchi produces essentially documentary films.
Recent filmography (2015-2017)
- Talking about Trees – documentary by Suhaib Gasmelbari Mustafa (2019). International Festival Berlin – Panorama – Glashutte Prize Best documentary and Public Panorama best audience Prize
- Sculptrices : ni muses ni modèles (Women Sculptors), documentary by Emilie Valentin (2018).
- Une jeune fille de 90 ans (A young girl in her nineties), documentary by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi and Yann Coridian (2016) – Locarno Festival, FIFF Namur Festival (Jury Special Prize and Documentary Audience Prize), Leipzig Festival (Critic choice award), Roma Independent Film Festival (Best International Documentary Prize), IDFA Festival, Milano Film Network, Transylvania Film Festival of Bucharest.
- Oblomov, fiction by Guillaume Gallienne (2017) – Film Festival of Luchon (Best Young Actress Prize for Adeline d’Hermy), Competition FIPA Biarritz
- The three sisters, fiction by Valeria Bruni Tedeschi (2015) – Prize Syndicat Français de la Critique.
- Examen d’Etat (National Diploma), documentary by Dieudo Hamadi (2014) – Toronto Festival, FIFF Namur Festival (Jury Special Prize), Fidadoc Morocco (Grand Prize), Leipzig Festival.
- The exilees of the promised land – documentary by Michale Boganim (pre-production)
- The eye of the desert – documentary by Hamed Zolfaghary
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AGAT Films & Cie
52, rue Jean-Pierre Timbaud
AGAT Films & Cie and EX NIHILO is a collective grouping eight producers inspired by common values that do not rule out each one’s point of view and sensitivity. This respect of difference, indispensable to every collective undertaking, is the basis of a company philosophy that strives to preserve the balance between a principle of pleasure (each producer’s desire) and a principle of reality (the smooth running of the company).
This basic structure has allowed us to produce in a wide variety of genres: original documentaries, scientific programming, animated films, theme evenings, live performances, films for the cinema, series, TV-movies, etc.
This synergy, this continual movement between documentary and fiction, is viewed by the collective as one of the ways to explore our relationship with our times, to participate in the understanding and questioning of the age. It is also a basic condition to maintain a spirit of independence and creativity that runs counter to any formatting or standardization of productions.
Fully aware of the cultural dimension of our activity that cannot be subject solely to market laws, we staunchly defend the realm of public television, the best guarantor of artistic creation and of the renewal of its forms and talents.
The arrival of digital technology and, more specifically, the multiplication of broadcasting outlets and viewing methods require the creation and circulation of distinctive and prestigious programmes from a production company with a strong identity.
Recent filmography of AGAT Films :
- La villa – Robert Guédiguian (2018) – Toronto, Venice Mostra, Césars
- The Young Karl Marx – Raoul Peck (2017) – Berlinale
- L’effet aquatique, by Solveig Anspach (2016) –Cannes Festival
- Taj Mahal, by Nicolas Saada (2016) – Telluride Selection
- The Other Side, by Roberto Minervini (2015 – documentary) –Cannes Festival
- Une histoire de fou, by Robert Guédiguian (2015) – Official Selection Cannes Festival
- My sweet pepper land, by Hiner Saleem (2014) – Official selection Cannes