Algerian film Hekayat Karyati (Chronicles of my Village) was screened at the Cairo Opera House great hall on 21 November as part of the ongoing Cairo International Film Festival. The screening was followed by a discussion with the film's writer and director Karim Traidia, Al-Ahram Arabic reported.
A Dutch-Algerian filmmaker, Traidia studied sociology in Paris and cinema at the Dutch Film Academy of Amsterdam, and today resides in Holland.
He worked on a few short films before releasing his debut feature 'The Polish Bride' which was screened at the Cannes Film Festival and awarded two Golden Calves.
Released in 2015, Hekayat Karyati tells the story of Traidia’s own childhood during the Algerian War of Independence. The film is one of fifty films about this period produced by the Algerian Ministry of Culture.
The film focuses on the Algerian people’s attempt to free themselves from the frustration and feelings of helplessness which dominated their lives prior to winning independence.
Events of the war are not portrayed on screen. Rather, the director chooses to convey a message about a great historical event by telling an intimate story.
In the discussion which followed the film, and which was moderated by critic Essam Zakariya, Traidia spoke on the autobiographical nature of his work, and especially in Hekayat Karyati.
The feelings, the struggles and the family depicted in the film are all the director’s own. The main character, a young boy named Bashir, represents Algerian children in that moment in the country's history and particularly the children of Traidia's own village, where the action takes place.
At one point in the film, a French lady is seen feeding Bashir some honey. Traidia explained that when he was young, this lady would give honey to the village children every Sunday after church. Although he enjoyed being fed honey as a child, it now reminds him of the humiliation suffered by his people under French colonization. Eventually, the child bites the French lady’s hand in an attempt by Traidia to convey the child's mounting anger towards the coloniser: a form of artistic revenge.
The French soldier’s relationship towards the country and the people, as shown on screen, is allegorical. The Algerian child wishes his father could be in the place of that soldier, but as he comes to realise that the coloniser is an oppressor, the child changes his views.
Traidia concluded that although he's not sure whether film can convey messages, it should lead the audience to identify with the story and understand the director’s thoughts and feelings.
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