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Birds of Arabia, Fragments of Correspondence| 40mins
Director: David Yon | Producer: Gabriel Chabanier
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: France
Subject Tags: africa, algeria, conflict, europe, experimental, france, migration, spiritual awareness
Quality Tags: Optimistic, Slow, Activating, Harmonizing
On the eve of the Second World War, thousands of Spanish refugees crossed the Pyrenees as they fled from Franco’s advance. Antonio Atarès was one of these refugees. Upon his arrival in France, he was interned in a camp in the Vernet in Ariège. In March 1941, he received a letter from someone he did not know, the philosopher Simone Weil. A correspondence started up between them. On the one hand, a Jewish thinker, engaged in a political and mystical struggle in Marseille, and on the other hand, an anarchist peasant exiled in France, then at the doors of the Sahara, in Djelfa in Algeria. David Yon, a film-lover and connoisseur (he is, by the way, the director of a very fine movie review), has chosen in this first film to make the most of the distance implied in correspondence. An off–reading of the letters thus accompanies the pictures. But this procedure causes two important distortions. On the one hand, apart from the pieces of archived material shown at the beginning which are deeply moving, we are shown shots of today’s Algeria: its landscapes, its languor, its childish trepidation, and the famous Pasolinian birds of the title. It is not the end of history, and the hopes exchanged then still remain to be kindled today. On the other hand, a single voice for two, that of the great Lou Castel, who, with his melodic phrasing tinged with a slight foreign accent, unites the two modes of exile.

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