Madmen’s Fort / Le Fort des fous

Alžir, 2017., 139' DCP
Director: Narimane Mari • Scenario: Narimane Mari • Photography: Narimane Mari, Antonin Boischot • Montage: Narimane Mari, Corentin Doucet • Music: Los Cousinos • Production: Centrale Electrique, Xenia Film, Joon Film, Blonde, Allers Retours Films • Roles: Michel Haas, Rachid Haddad, Thekla Gounaridi, Antoine Morin

Inspired by Montaigne’s text, the author’s restless spirit is torn between three acts. The first act takes place in an old abandoned villa, former Algerian residence of De Gaulle. There, a group of young legionnaires – which were eloquently described as a “new concept of pacification” by one of the soldiers – is preparing to conquer the region. The second act dives into the timeless utopian commune of the Greek island of Cythera. In the third act, the author talks with a squatter from the occupied Athenian district of Prosfygika and with an attorney. His squat and her elegant office are seen as classical and ideological antipodes. “What I want is totally different from what I hope for,” says her acter. Using the aesthetics of performance and theater  in some compositions, the author’s way of using the negative space is similar to Jean-Marie Straub’s. Straub himself liked to look for inspiration in Montaigne (code: Un Conte de Michel de Montaigne). Prior to being screened at festivals in Locarno, the author’s piece was presented as an art installation at documenta 16 in Kassel. In this discourse, the most effective part is its first Algerian sensual segment which deals with the legacy of colonialism, with quotations ranging from Sarkozy’s speeches to Pasolini, and subtitles that deliberately do not correspond to the heroic, often incoherently pronounced words and lip movements.

Translated by Saša Vidaković

Nariman Mari was born in Algeria, where she founded two independent production companies – Centrale électrique and Allers-retours – with the aim of affirming the corourageous and radical young authors. Her previous piece Loubna hamra (Bitter Beans) was proclaimed the best documentary film at the prestigious CPH: DOX Festival in Copenhagen.