With his debut feature, ‘Papicha, dreams of freedom’, the French-Algerian Mounia Meddour hit the table to show the heroism of women in the 90sat the height of the Algerian Civil War, which lasted until 2002. A powerful film, which showed a group of university students who defended their rights against the dangerous Islamization of the area, won two César Awards, one to the best debut film and another for the best new actress for its protagonist, a brand new Lyna Khoudri, currently converted into one of the great young talents of French cinema.
Meddour and Khoudri join forces again three years after ‘Papicha’ to narrate a new plea for the emancipation of women, this time in present-day Algeria. They do it with ‘Houria (Freedom)’, presented at the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival and which is already in Spanish commercial theaters after passing through the Rome Festival and the Malaga Festival. Meddour knows how to expand the fighting spirit he had with his first feature film, leading him to the consequences of said war and how women continue to be at the front when it comes to defending their rights.
Lyna Khoudri trades fashion for dance, embodying Houria, the young woman who gives the film its title, a talented dancer who sees her dreams of succeeding dashed when she is brutally attacked one night after participating in some clandestine betting. His world will change forever, to the point that he will stop talking completely after suffering an emotional shock. Here, Meddour brings the historical to the everyday, since his aggressor is a pardoned from the government who participated in terrorist acts and femicides during the Civil War.
Here, the filmmaker shows a wound that is still open in a country that has become geographically relevant with a dangerous process of new Islamization of its society and how it has become a power close to Russia and China. The filmmaker does not enter into these debates, but she does allow us to glimpse how they mark the daily life of women, especially those who have artistic vocations. That is noticeable in the passion and fury that Houria has in her choreography and how her healing processyour own sense of emancipation is what becomes your burning nail to move forward.
Beautiful plea in defense of women’s freedom through body language
Not alone, Meddour makes a powerful allegation of female fraternity, just as he did with the protagonists of ‘Papicha’. This time, it shows that brotherhood after the attack, when Houria meets women who also go to rehabilitation, many of them also psychologically marked. The filmmaker, who also signs the script, reinforces that image of group strength in a feature film in which practically all the protagonists are female characters.
Meddour’s second film transmits passion and fury, the kind that Houria herself feels before the new life she must accept and the ferocity she feels when defending her own rights. A film that once again shows how all those emotions are transmitted by a fascinating Lyna Khoudri. The interpreter tooth and nail defends a young woman who, finally, does not allow herself to be overwhelmed by adversity.
‘Houria (Freedom)’ is a plea for the emancipation of women, with a very visual portrait, frontal and hairy, through dance, the free movement of the body. Meddour triumphs again and, together with Maryam Touzani, Kaouther Ben Hania and Manele Labidi Labbé, they make up a new wave of Maghreb filmmakers who focus on the feminist struggle in the region and give voice and strength to all those women who fight every day. a day for their rights.
The best: The dance scenes are fascinating and hypnotic. The sensations that Lyna Khoudri transmits with her interpretation.
Worst: At the beginning, it is difficult for him to find the balance between the social and political drama.