“Alger-Beyrouth: pour Mémoire”
Georges Corraface as Rachid.
Also starring : Fabienne Babe, Paul Mattar, Hocine Choutri.
Directed by : Merzak Allouache.
Produced by : Arte.
Distributed by : Arte.
Date : 1998
A French journalist of Lebanese origin, Laurence (Fabienne Babe), returns to her homeland for the first time after years of absence. She had left Beirut in 1975, a few days after the assasination of her father at the beginning of the civil war. Her mother is seriously ill, and it is for her sake that Laurence makes the trip that brings her back to the places of her childhood, looking for images and memories of her father.
She is greeted by Samy (Paul Mattar), a real estate agent who is a friend of her parents; he guides her around the city under reconstruction. In a Beirut bar, by chance, she meets Rachid (Georges Corraface), an Algerian journalist living in self-exile in Lebanon to escape the violence raging in Algeria. Rachid is seriously drunk, pretends not to recognize Laurence and refuses to speak to her. This encounter troubles her because she is sure that Rachid is the same man with whom she struck up a friendship in Algiers a few years earlier while covering the Algerian municipal elections.
The next day she seeks him out, learning at what hotel he is staying and the print shop where he works. She manages to renew contact with Rachid, and he spends his spare time strolling with her throughout the city. He is fascinated by the destroyed neighborhoods and the civil war that ravaged the country where he sought refuge after the assasination of his best friend, a journalist with whom he often worked as a team.
Sensing Rachid’s profound unease, Laurence tries to convince him to ask for political asylum in France. His reticence troubles her, as she is increasingly drawn to him. One night they make love in a hotel in Baalbek. Laurence and Rachid have a passionate affair for a handful of days. Aided by Samy, she tries to obtain a visa for the man she loves. But Laurence is unaware of the terrible secret which torments Rachid …
“Alger-Beyrouth pour Memoire” (“Algiers-Beirut: Remembering”) is not only a film about exile or the Algerian tragedy, according to its director. Merzak Allouache also wanted a personal reflection on the problem of intellectuals’ distress when facing violence. From Beirut, after a devastating war whose wounds are not yet healed, its unimagineable ruins, its omnipresent tension and divisions… Algiers, his hometown, with its daily violence, fear, despair and death at every street corner. Through the intertwined stories of Rachid, Laurence, Samy, Nedjwa, Hocine, he also wanted to tell the tale of these two symbolic cities.