A first feature film by French boxer, auteur and actor Rachid Djaidani (2006 documentary SUR MA LIGNE), Rengaine (Hold Back) premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where it was the official selection in the Directors Fortnight and the International Critics Week sections.
Described as a “Paris-set twist on Romeo and Juliet“, Hold Back will screen next at the 56th BFI London Film Festival, which begins October 10. The film stars Slimane Dazi as Slimane, the eldest of 40 Arab Muslim brothers to Sabrina (Sabrina Hamida), a young North African woman. Slimane is disgusted by the rumors of his sister’s engagement to a Black Christian French man named Dorcy – played by French actor Stephane Soo Mongo (2009’s Neuilly sa mere!). Conflict ensues as Slimane begins a frantic search for his sister in Paris.
In present-day Paris, Sabrina (Sabrina Hamida), a young North African woman, falls in love with Dorcy (Stéphane Soo Mongo), a black Christian trying to make ends meet as an actor. They plan to get married, but when rumour gets out about their engagement, Slimane (Slimane Dazi), the eldest of Sabrina’s 40 brothers, is disgusted that his Arab Muslim sister would consider such a union. He is determined that Sabrina should stay faithful to familial and community traditions, and traipses the city in search of her. From this starting point, the first full-length feature from French novelist and actor Rachid Djaïdani develops into a provocative, freewheeling analysis of attitudes to race and religion in modern-day France that’s pertinent and relevant beyond the country. Presented in an appealingly raw style that nods to John Cassavetes, Hold Back is fearless, inventive filmmaking featuring frequent moments that surprise and disarm.
The film was in the making for about 9 years – since 2004- around the time actor Soo Mongo met director Djaidani. I’m curious to find out why the actors playing the brother and sister kept their real names (Slimane and Sabrina) for their film characters.
A trailer has yet to be released. For now, take a look at the stills below and poster underneath.