Hassen Ferhani

Algeria, France, Qatar, 2019 / 100 min / Arabic OV with French or English subt. / documentary

A reverse road-movie documentary where instead of seeking adventure, adventure comes to find Malika

Malika, an elderly woman, lives in the middle of the Algerian Sahara where she runs a rest-stop café, offering a cigarette, a coffe or eggs to weary travellers. If the menu is as austere as her surroundings, discussions flow easily in her little house and many customers have become acquaintances over time, not stopping only for the tea but for company in the middle of this endless sea of sand. Malika, on the other hand, never leaves her little cabin. She doesn’t have to as visitors always come to her to recount their personal and professional stories, bringing news from the world and tales of adventures that Malika avidly collects. Over the years, she has become a living archive of Algeria’s collective memory and serves as a metaphor of her country’s troubled history.

“With every new shot, Hassen Ferhani manages to reveal a new fragment of the minuscule space of Malika’s small café, which keeps the film surprisingly dynamic. Ferhani does not hold sway over Malika's representation, which is one of the most satisfying elements of the film. Malika seems aware of her character's cinematic construction, and even dares to contradict statements about her life from one moment to the next, in a scene that is as performative as any fiction. Even though the film provides us with real-time access to this woman's world, she retains a sense of privacy, which is the main source of the film’s mystery.” Nico Pereda, Vienna International Film Festival

Fri 06/03 16:30 Ciné Utopia Arabic & FR OV with EN subt. Public
Thu 12/03 21:00 Ciné Utopia Arabic & FR OV with FR subt. Public
Fri 13/03 18:00 Cinémathèque Arabic & FR OV with EN subt. Public

“Hassen Ferhani's loving portrait of a woman and her roadside teahouse addresses the need for familiarity and respectful human interaction in a world in a state of flux.” Jay Weissberg, Variety, 30/08/19

"Hassen Ferhani’s Locarno prizewinning documentary about a truck stop in the Sahara desert is a slow-burning delight. […] The beauty of the film is how it plays with preconceptions. It starts with an establishing shot of cars driving along Route One, with the vast expanse of the Sahara as the backdrop. Amid this landscape, like a mirage sitting in its isolated spot, is the truck stop. During the course of the movie, as we meet Malika and her customers – some more than once – it becomes apparent that the café is not isolated. There are plans to put a superstore in the vicinity, and that poses a threat to Malika’s livelihood. It suddenly dawns on us that Ferhani isn’t making a film about a quaint little café, but about globalisation. It’s a story about a changing world, told through the tales of peculiar characters going about their daily lives in a seemingly faraway place.” Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa, 23/08/2019

  • Silver Star for the Best Feature Documentary, El Gouna Film Festival, 2019 (Egypt)
  • Best Emerging Director – Filmmakers of the Present, Locarno International Film Festival, 2019 (Switzerland)
  • Special Jury Mention – International Feature Competition, Montreal International Documentary Festival, 2019 (Canada)
  • Best International Documentary Film, Torino Film Festival, 2019 (Italy)
Cast & Credits
Malika, Chawki Amari, Samir Elhakim
Hassen Ferhani
Hassen Ferhani
Mohamed Ilyas Guetal
Allers Retours Films, Centrale Électrique
Pascale Ramonda

Hassen Ferhani is an Algerian filmmaker born in Algiers in 1986. From 2003 to 2008, he co-hosted the film club of the Chrysalide association in Algiers. In 2006, he directed his first short fiction film, Les Baies d’Alger, which screened in competition at several international festivals. In 2008, attended the Fémis’ summer school and directed the short documentary Le vol du 140 (2008). He then went on to co-direct Afric Hotel (2011) as well as Tarzan, Don Quichotte et nous (2013), confirming his interest in documentary films which border on fiction. Tarzan, Don Quichotte et nous was presented among others at Visions du Réel, FID Marseille and the Locarno Film Festival. In 2015, he directed his first feature documentary, Roundabout in My Head, which won multiple awards on the festival circuit. His latest film, 143 Sahara Street (2019) won the Best Emerging Director Award in Locarno.

  • 2019 – 143 Rue du Désert (documentaire / documentary / Dokumentarfilm)
  • 2017 – À l’ouest de Seriana (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)
  • 2015 – Dans ma tête un rond-point (documentaire / documentary / Dokumentarfilm)
  • 2013 – Tarzan, Don Quichotte et nous (court-métrage documentaire / documentary short / Dokumentarkurzfilm)
  • 2011 – Afric Hotel (documentaire / documentary / Dokumentarfilm)
  • 2006 – Les Baies d’Alger (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)