I am certainly no expert on Algeria and the cinema, but happen to have seen two Algeria focused films this week as part of the DC filmfest.
Last night it was “Paloma’s Delight”, a film whose success did not match its ambition. Set in Algiers, an aging woman “fixer” makes a good living helping people do things that should not be done: for a little money, she will find a beautiful young woman to compromise your husband, so that you can divorce on grounds of adultery. Or, she will send the health inspectors to close down the ice cream parlor across the street so that you will have a neighborhood monopoly. Or, perhaps, you just want a beautiful ‘escort’ for the night.
Well, it only works for a while and then you go to jail, and your son, your sister, your entire world turns against you. They either leave the country, or get religion and become devout Moslems.
Is it a political statement, a moral statement, a sociological statement, or simply a not-very-interesting story? I am not sure.
Interestingly, the director directed, and two of the leading actors had leading roles in, a French Algerian film, “Vive L’Aldjeria”, which we saw a year or two ago at a Smithsonian festival, and which I think I enjoyed more. The actors are Biyouna, a veteran Algerian actress, and a younger Nadia Kaci. Kaci, I see, has been very active in trying to improve the legal position of women in Algeria. Look at the article posted at http://www.voices-unabridged.org/article2.php?id_ss_article=254&id_rub=1&sous_rub=Muslims&numero=6, which I think you will find quite interesting.
There was a first last night (for me at least) at the movie. A woman sitting three rows behind must have paid attention when they said to put your cell phones on mute or vibrate, because I did not hear it ring. But we all heard it when she decided to carry out a complete conversation from her seat. I looked at her; she did not look at me. I looked at her husband; he gave me a “Is something wrong?” look.