In 1994, S. and Lotfi, two men who have been friends since childhood, leave northern Algeria—a part of the country plagued by terrorist attacks—for the desert in the south. They are looking for a certain terrorist, which might seem absurd, since the Sahara was not an area of terrorist activity at the time. Their mission, however, is of a primarily therapeutic nature: Lotfi wants to get his psychologically broken friend far away from the cruelty and bloodshed. But their trip takes them out of the frying pan and straight into the fire, as scenes of death are all around them. To a large extent, this is all in S.’s head, as he is gradually unable to differentiate reality from figments of his own imagination. The audience is also deceived: We are slow to learn anything at all about the present life of both characters; moreover, the boundary between visions and real events is blurred. This is a film for contemplation and reflection, showing the psychological and social costs of the downward spiral of crime. While demanding patience, it enjoyed a successful premiere in the Critics’ Week section at this year’s Cannes Festival.
Amin Sidi-Boumédiène was born in France in 1982. He studied chemistry before moving on to filmmaking. In 2005, he graduated from Paris’s CLCF film school and then worked in Algeria as an assistant director. In 2010, he made his debut with the short film Tomorrow, Algiers? which was screened at numerous festivals. He also made the shorts The Island and Serial K. before making Abou Leila, his feature debut.
2011 Demain, Alger? / Tomorrow, Algiers?
2019 Abou Leila