'The Journey' and 'Whatever happened to my revolution'
Mohamed al-Daradji's film The Journey, or Baghdad Station, which has finally released in France, begins with a daunting prospect of a suicide bomb attack. "I think it's important for French people, and everyone, to see this and think about maybe why some people become [radicalised]."
Tout ce qui me reste de la révolution (in English: Whatever happened to my revolution) has taken French director-actress Judith Davis' from the stage to the screen. "After the stage play of almost the same name, I felt I had more to say about the important matter of political committment in our times, and for my generation."
Click on the arrow above to listen to the interviews in this month's Cinefile.
The Journey (Baghdad Station)
Daradji's fifth film, which won recognition at the Toronto Film Festival is a psychological thriller in a time capsule.
A young woman, a determined look in her eye, bulk around her middle and her hand on a trigger. All around Sara (Zahraa Ghandour), the usual hustle and bustle of the central station of the Iraqi capital on the day, former dictator Saddam Hussein is executed. A day when the renovated hub is to be inaugurated with a little ceremony.
Little does she know that the train carrying the VIPs will be late and that she is about to make an unexpected journey with wise-guy Salam (Ameer Jabarah).
Little does he imagine the full weight of their encounter and where it will end.
Throughout the film, Daradji has the spectator meet the war-scarred of Iraq, or the region more broadly. The Journey seems something of a miracle film given the volatile situation during the film shoot.
As well as telling an exceptional tale, Daradji also reveals stories and casualties of everyday life and love – and the will to survive in a war zone.
The Iraqi director wasn't daunted by the risk of filming a vulnerable subject in the renovated Baghdad Station at a time when his country was recovering from war – and under threat of more violence from the Islamic State armed group.
Tout ce qui me reste de la révolution (Whatever happened to my revolution)
On a remarkably sunny day in France, Angèle (Judith Davis) has just lost her job and lost her peg with her former sexist employer. She is boiling with rage as she graffittis a rude gesture on a bank machine with a marker pen in broad daylight.
Just then, a gentler encounter, a young teacher called Saïd, comes her way, along with his class of inquisitive seven-year-olds.
Davis's character is sufficiently unconventional and sufficiently recognisable as a child of revolutionary parents fighting for the same kind of changes her elders were confronting 50 years ago.
Angèle's anger is a motor for the high revs of theatrical or witty comedy in a film which nonetheless calls into question philosophical and political values of our society.
The father hanging onto the past and the mother making the most of the achievements of the revolt.
Davis is supported by fabulously lively and talented actors, Claire Dumas and Malik Zidi, who wowed last year's Angoulême awards jury, headed by Karine Viard.
With its unwieldy title, there's something positively refreshing about Davis' debut.
Almost a revolution in French film.