Mille et un jours (1001 Days)
2004 | 44mins | Colour
By Mieke Bal, Zen Marie, Thomas Sykora, Gary Ward & Michelle Williams Gamaker
Genre: Experimental Documentary
French and Arabic with English subtitles
A snapshot of a small wedding that means everything
The film celebrates the outcome of an intricate journey of the anguish, struggle, loneliness and financial constraints of a young sans papiers in Paris. Tarek (27) came to Paris from Tunisia in 1999 pursuing an education. Despite the difficulties of his status as ‘illegal immigrant’, he followed a course of study in computer science and obtained his diploma. As he was pursuing this double life of earning a living and studying, the French authorities tried to expel him. But they didn’t succeed.
Through a great intimacy with the characters, we witness how four generations of Tunisian immigrants cope with the opportunities and hardships of migration. Tarek’s obsession with time’s speed is cast against the shadow of his father’s earlier failure to cope with capitalist time.
Like the Arabic tales the film’s title references, the film organizes stories around a wedding. With celebrations in full swing, the politics of immigration remains present under the surface. The film’s political thrust is to elicit debate by enlisting the viewer to become acquainted with the characters and the ins and outs of their situation; to be guests at the wedding. Rife with bureaucratic violence but also with the characters’ vitality, determination, and intelligence in outsmarting ‘the system’, the film’s content and aesthetics mix the contrasting tones of tragedy and comedy, fear and celebration.
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