Abou Leila Unclassified 18+
Setting off into the Sahara in search of an elusive terrorist, two childhood friends confront their traumas in this road movie meets meditative-absurdist western, which screens at MIFF straight from Cannes Critics’ Week.
In Algiers circa 1994, the civil war rages on, resulting in street-side shootouts, traumatised police and civilians alike, and a tense, fraught daily reality. For Lotfi and his lifelong pal S., it’s reason enough to escape the city, with the pair endeavouring to hunt down infamous terrorist Abou Leila. But S.’s lead is hardly solid, and nor is his fragile mental state – and the further they journey into the desert, the more Lotfi’s worries for his friend grow.
Making full use of the film’s sprawling setting, Algerian writer/director Amin Sidi-Boumédiène serves up an evocative, immersive and visually sumptuous feature debut with this poetic and probing drama, which is both steeped in the horrors of its specific place and time, and speaks broadly about the scars left by constant conflict.
“A patient, pensive and often surrealist view on violence’s lingering influence … rich, resonant and involving.” – Screen Daily