LA MAISON JAUNE
by Amor Hakkar / France, Algeria / 2007 / 80 minutes / 35mm / Colour
|"La Maison Jaune", DQ winner in Locarno 2007|
Production Co + Sales Co. / Sarah Films http://www.sarah-films.fr/
In Algeria, in the arid mountainous landscapes of the Aurès, Aya, a young girl of twelve, is digging a plot of land when a police car draws up. The policemen give her a letter announcing the accidental death of Belkacem, her elder brother who was doing his military service in another town. As soon as the family is informed, the father, Mouloud, sets off on his motorised tricycle to collect his son’s body. Courageous and determined, he braves all proscriptions and dangers to bring back the remains of the deceased. Despite the empathy and compassion of people he meets along the way, Mouloud’s journey is imbued with suffering and loneliness. On his return, he realises that his wife Fatima has withdrawn into a deep sadness. Fearing that she will never feel happy again, Mouloud tries everything to bring a smile to her face, going house to house to find a remedy, refusing to give up. For like all the peasants in the hostile lands of the Aurès, he knows that “to give up is to die a little”…
Exploring a family in mourning, La maison jaune recounts each character’s distress in the face of loss and the sense of emptiness that could only be filled by the return of the deceased, now gone forever. The film evokes those moments with shots of the Aurès’ wild landscapes, where nightfall is charged with an atmosphere full of nostalgia and sadness. The dialogue is sparse, but the music, combined with the sonorities of the Berber language, conveys the family’s love for their departed son. La maison jaune was inspired by Amor Hakkar’s own experience of having to take his father’s remains from France to his place of origin in the Aurès. The filmmaker also delivers an affecting performance as the father Mouloud.
Further details from Locarno International Film Festival http://www.pardo.ch/jahia/Jahia/home/lang/en