In Casablanca, the young Abdellah spends his days at home, living a relationship of conflicts and complicity with his father. In the city streets, he has occasional sexual intercourses with men. During a holiday, his older and venerated brother Slimane abandons him. Ten years later. Abdellah lives with his Swiss lover, Jean. He leaves Morocco and goes to Geneva, where he decides to break up and to start a new life alone. He takes shelter in a house of the Salvation Army, where a Moroccan man sings a song of his idol Abdel Halim Hafez for him.
A film by Abdellah TAÏA
2013, Francia, Marocco, 84', Feature
starring Said Mrini (young Abdellah), Karim Ait M'hand (adult Abdellah), Amine Ennaji (Slimane)
Original title / L'Armée du salut
English title / Salvation Army
Director / Abdellah Taïa
Screenplay / Abdellah Taïa
Cinematography / Agnès Godard
Editing / Françoise Tourmen
Sound / Fanny Martin
Producers / Hugues Charbonneau, Marie Ange Luciani
Production / Les films de Pierre
Coproduction / Les films Pelléas, Rita Production, Ali N'Films
Format / DCP, colour, 1:1.85
Runtime / 81 min.
NOTE OF THE PROGRAMMER (Toronto 2013)
The rapturous debut feature from Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa offers a charged, semi-autobiographical tale about a young graduate who must navigate the sexual, racial, and political intrigue surrounding his arrival in Geneva.
Inspired by his own autobiographical novel, the rapturous debut feature from Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa is a story of coming of age, folding and unfolding with love, pain, desire, and violence.
This film is structured in a diptych: the first episode chronicles Abdellah's (Said Mrini) teenage years, when he comes to understand, all at once, his sexuality, social codes, inhibitions, the brutality of patriarchy, and the cruelty of poverty. The second half follows the young adult Abdellah (Karim Ait M'hand) as a penniless university graduate who travels on a scholarship to Geneva, where he must negotiate the treacherous sexual, racial, political, and social trappings of being a young homosexual Moroccan in Europe.
With sparing dialogue, stunning painterly cinematography by Agnès Godard and perfectly pitched emotional charge, the film pays homage to both French master Robert Bresson and to the godfather of Egyptian realism, Salah Abu Seif. However, most striking in Salvation Army is Taïa's fearless honesty in transposing to the realm of cinema the complexity of his experience as a homosexual young man in a Moroccan working-class milieu. With eloquence and intelligence, the film wilfully breaks rank with prevailing queer narratives and representations of Morocco. There are no victims to be rescued or pitied here. It is as much a film about inhibition, hypocrisy, brutality, and shame as it is about desire, love, dignity, and survival. Without a doubt, it's the herald of a great filmmaker in the making.RASHA SALTI (TIFF 2013)
Director: Abdellah Taïa
Orig. Work Title Salvation Army
Runtime: 82 minutes
Premiere Status North American Premiere
Producer: Hugues Charbonneau, Marie Ange Luciani
Production Co.: Les Films de Pierre, Les films Pelleas, Rita Production
Principal Cast: Said Mrini, Karim Ait M'hand, Amine Ennaji
Screenplay: Abdellah Taïa
Source Author: Abdellah Taïa
Cinematographer: Agnes Godard
Editor: Francoise Tourmen
Sound: Henri Maikoff, Fanny Martin, Christophe Vingtrinier
Tags: Queer Interest/LGBT | Drama | Coming of Age | First Feature | Arabic