May Allah Bless France

May Allah Bless France

Wed October 18, 2017, 7:30 PM

Muenzinger Auditorium

Tournées Film Festival is made possible with the support of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., the Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée (CNC), the French American Cultural Fund, Florence Gould Foundation and Highbrow Entertainment.
French rapper, author, and spoken word artist Abd Al Malik makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of his 2004 autobiography, chronicling his upbringing in the crime- and drug-ridden streets of Strasbourg and his life-changing encounters with hip hop and religion.

May Allah Bless France is a work of ultimate auteur filmmaking, inasmuch as the film is not only written and directed by the same man, Abd Al Malik, but he is also the author of the novel upon which the film is based. This immediacy instantly gives the film a decided edge over your standard rise-to-fame biopic.

The specifics of this story are how Régis (Marc Zinga) rises out of his underprivileged circumstances with the support of family, education and rap. Unwilling to be a simplistic chronicle it also balances the subplots of his adoption of the Islamic faith, his relationship with his girlfriend (Sabrina Ouazani), and losses along the way where he must choose definitively the course his life will take.

Special commendation is earned by this film for the manner in which it it discusses Islam, and its perception, as well as engaging in some debate among the faithful about how to best practice their religion, a struggle with dogmatism – while also not holding back the forward momentum of the plot.

The film is certainly carried with impressive, charasmatic and effective ease by Marc Zinga who embodies his character so well I wasn’t so sure he wasn’t the auteur. That fact, and the decision to make the film black-and-white, along with some other plot elements do make the case for this film being a modernized spin on Truffaut’s The 400 Blows.

When this film was finished I was left with a smile on my face and quite moved by how it closes. In this story you have a protagonist who comes to the early realizaion that generally speaking he, like other African emigrés, are not wanted in France, yet they still love their country. Most importantly Malik doesn’t allow his sense of ostracism to define him but rather it forms the core of his motivation to succeed. The uplifting message of hope, change and perseverance is truly universal and this is a film many should see.

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