January 31, 2006

J'ai vu tuer Ben Barka - an IFFR review

As promised last week a quick review of the films that I’ve seen at the International Film Festival Rotterdam - which is still on until this weekend by the way, so if you haven’t been yet: go!

We saw two films:
J’ai vu tuer Ben Barka – a French/Spanish/Moroccan film about the assassination of Mehdi Ben Barka in 1965. A true event which involved the French secret service and police, but also French intellectuals such as Marguerite Duras and Georges Franju.

Ça m’est égal si demain n’arrive pas - a Belgian film (French spoken) which the director classified as an ‘experiment’ in the Q&A afterwards. Uhm, yeah, right. And why did you need to show us your experiment? I won’t bother with a more detailed review. Suffice to say that it had nice images, lovely music but I think this will be forgotten fairly quickly.

But, back to J’ai vu.

Unfortunately we walked in a few minutes late, so we didn’t catch the beginning of the film. And partly because of that it was pretty overwhelming and difficult to get into at the beginning.
As I mentioned, the film describes a true event in 1965. The director afterwards had to confirm this a few more times in the Q&A-session, as especially for non-French it is a very unknown topic. It describes the development of a plot to assassinate Mehdi Ben Barka, a Moroccan who was a prominent opposition leader in Morocco (I got the impression from the story that he was also involved with the Non-Aligned Movement, although after a quick Google I can’t find anything definite about that yet).

The film was divided into different parts (about five, if I remember correctly) which looked at the story from different perspectives and characters. Many people were involved, knowingly but also unknowingly such as the above mentioned intellectuals, and it uses these groups of people to give more detail to the story. Many people from the audience commented afterwards that the whole setting with the music and atmosphere felt like a film noir.

It was an impressive film. Because of the subject matter obviously, but also the good acting, the format of the film and so on.
It was also very interesting as French colonial history (which this was indirectly linked to) is something I hardly know anything about.


Anonymous said...

hey, i asked you about the festival on LP TT. see, i warned you about the belgian movies :) the ben baraka one sounds very interesting though, i will keep my eye out for it.

machiruda said...

Hmm, you did indeed warn me huh. Oh well, it was an interesting day in any case. Movies have to be really really bad for me to walk out of them, or not enjoy them in some way (and here the shots were pretty!)