Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Boyd van Hoeij
September 10, 2012 11:57 AM
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TIFF Capsule Review: 'Fidai'

The ways of international film financing can be obscure, as demonstrated by the French-Algerian-Chinese documentary “Fidaï” from director Damien Ounouri, who managed to get Chinese auteur-par-excellence Jia Zhang-Ke (“Still Life”) on board as an executive producer (there’s a little of Jia’s approach to documentary here). The formally assembled and beautiful non-fiction feature, shot on crisp digital video, chronicles the story of Med El Hadi Benadouda, the filmmaker’s great-uncle, who was a Fidaï, or mujahideen soldier without a uniform, during the Algerian Revolution that sought to liberate the country from French oppression. Ounouri takes Benadouda back to some of the places where soldiers were tortured and where his great-uncle carried out some of his missions (read: killings), which together they try to restage. As much about the specifics of the revolutionary FLN movement as it is about the effects of memory on both Benadouda and his extensive family, this film strikes an impressive balance between larger historical meaning and more personal issues. Anyone interested in a documentary companion piece of sorts to “The Battle of Algiers” could do worse than start here. Criticwire grade: B- [Boyd van Hoeij]

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