Although cultural industries are almost absent and non-existent in Algeria, some film productions manage to distinguish themselves at regional and continental level. This is the case of two Algerian films which won two prizes during the 10th edition of the Maghrebian Film Festival, held during the period from 19 to 23 November 2021.
It is indeed a cultural event that has been held every year since 2010, in the Moroccan city of Oujda, on the western borders of Algeria. The Maghrebian Film Festival sheds light on the various cinematographic works, with the aim of contributing to the development of the film industry and celebrating the 7th art internationally.
Among the 18 films that participated, two Algerian films stood out. It is Papicha and Spring postponed having respectively won the Grand Prize for best film in the “feature films” category, as well as the Prize for best screenplay in the “short films” category.
Papicha, a feature film retracing the suffering of women in the era of terrorism
Released in 2019, and directed by the Franco-Algerian, Mounia Meddour, Papicha traces the lives of young Algerian students, ambitious and emancipated who want to challenge the fear and fundamentalists of the 1990s to achieve their goals. The main role was played by Lyna Khoudri, a 29-year-old Franco-Algerian actress.
The story of the film revolves around the life of “Nedjma”, a young Algerian student in literature, who wants to lead a normal life and go out at night with her friends, hence the word “papicha” meaning in Algerian dialect, the flirtatious and outgoing young women.
Nedjma is indeed passionate about styling and dreams of setting up a fashion show in the university residence, despite the security context of the 1990s. Having lost her sister, journalist and reporter killed by terrorists, the young student refuses to lower the prices. arms faced with the tragic events of the black decade.
A film “censored” in Algeria
Let us remember that the film by Mounia Meddour, which represented Algeria at the Oscars and obtained the César 2020 for the first film, was censored in Algiers and banned from showing without explanation from the authorities concerned.
“For internal reasons, the screening of the film’s preview and the national release have been canceled,” Redha Talmat, director of the Algerian Center for the Development of Cinema, announced on September 17, 2019.
Following which, the filmmaker and co-producer of Papicha, Belkacem Hadjadj had qualified the ban on the release of the film in his country as an “arbitrary measure” which “prejudices the international image of Algeria”.
Knowing that the film was co-produced by the State and supported by Fdatic, an institution which depends on the Ministry of Culture and which operates with public money, this ban had aroused the astonishment of several specialists in the cinematographic world, like the Algerian directors Yanis Koussim and Sofia Djama.