Jamel Debbouze and Tewfik Jallal carry the lead roles in the first film by Mohamed Hamidi: Homeland (Né quelque part). This Algerian odyssey, partially autobiographical, will be presented at the Festival de Cannes as a Special Screening intended for an audience of secondary school students.
Mohamed Hamidi, a former journalist and co-founder of the Bondy Blog, has been working on this film since 2004. Apart from a few details, Homeland is his own story. Like him, the character Farid, (Tewfik Jallal) does not know much about Algeria, his country of origin. To save his father’s house, he has to go to the land of his forefathers where he has never set foot. In an interview, the director said, “Farid’s reflections on his roots, on this feeling of guilt towards his Algerian family, are questions I asked myself when I was younger.”
Beyond this quest for identity, the film talks about immigration: “I tried to explain why men and women take such risks to leave their country. They don’t do it to get state health coverage and paid holidays. It’s just to give their children a better future. People always talk about immigration in a blanket way but they forget that behind it all, there is a multitude of small personal stories.”
Mohamed Hamidi aims for social and political significance in his film: “I was always an activist. I try to deal with issues such as immigration without any Manichean dualism, or polarisation between good and evil. With Jamel, we work the same way, we talk about a mixed culture, but always with some distance.”
The film maker created a good team to work with: Alain-Michel Blanc (Live and Become) as co-scriptwriter and Jamel Debbouze in the second lead role. “He gives the character the humour and sly cleverness I wanted to put there. I think that it’s the first time Jamel has played the likeable bad guy in a film,” he says of his actor friend, whom he has already directed in the One man show Tout sur Jamel.