FORTISSIMO HITS THE RIGHT NOTES WITH ‘EL GUSTO’
Award-winning French/Algerian doc in the vein of Buena Vista Social Club
Amsterdam, Hong Kong November 16, 2011 – In advance of it’s Competition showing at this week’s IDFA, Fortissimo Films has acquired international rights outside of France to EL GUSTO, Safinez Bousbia’s ambitious and moving documentary which tells the amazing story of the reunion and reconciliation of a group of Muslim and Jewish musicians fifty years after their separation during the Algerian Civil War and follows their story as they are brought back together to form a new orchestra, “El Gusto,” and perform at an extraordinary concert in France.
The film triumphantly played at last month’s Abu Dhabi Film Festival where it won two prizes; Best Director from the Arab World, and the International Film Critics Prize (FIPRESCI), which followed on its recent premiere at the Busan International Film Festival.
UGC PH will release the film in France on January 11, 2012.
The film tells the story of a journey that started in a small mirror shop during Bousbia’s visit to Algiers in 2003. Intrigued by some old photographs of a music class from the 1940s, she set out to track down these lost friends, now aged between 70 and 100 and living across Algeria and France. Five decades after their first lessons at the Conservatory of Algiers under the legendary master El Hadj M’Hamed El Anka, the members of El Gusto now recount the country’s turbulent history and their undying passion for “CHABBI” –a rhythmic and unique cocktail of Andalusian, Berber, Arabic and Flamenco music traditions. Chabbi was the homegrown music of the Algerian Casbah; the music of the streets, the coffee shops and weddings that united (and defied) religion, class, and ethnicity.
Fortissimo chairman Michael J Werner comments: “ When I saw EL GUSTO last month at an overflow screening in Abu Dhabi, I was moved by the incredible energy of the film which resonated so strongly with that audience and showed that this was one of those unique films where the wonderful music combined with a message of reconciliation and hope transcended people’s preconceived limits and positions. Similar to the Buena Vista Social Club, EL GUSTO has a universal appeal that shows how music can transcend cultural, ethnic and religious boundaries.”
Directed by Safinez Bousbia, featuring The El Gusto Orchestra of Algiers, the film is produced by Bousbia and Heidi Egger, under Quidam Production El Gusto, with the participation of the Irish Film Board and the Abu Dhabi Film Festival SANAD Development and Post-Production Fund.
Fortissimo Films (www.fortissimofilms.com) is an international film, television and home entertainment sales organization specializing in the production, presentation, promotion and distribution of unique, award winning and innovative feature films from independent film makers from all over the world.
In celebration of Fortissimo Films’ 20th anniversary, New York’s MOMA is currently hosting a tribute film series entitled “In Focus: Fortissimo Films” November 10-21. The series showcases 11 of the notable Asian films the company has supported or developed. Highlights include Wong Kar-Wai’s “Happy Together,” Tian Zhuangzhuang’s “Springtime In A Small Town,” and Zhang Yuan’s “Beijing Bastards.”