El Gusto

Safinez Bousbia, Algeria / Ireland / United Arab Emirates / France, 2014, color / black and white, HDcam, 88'
Synopsis

A chance encounter puts the Algerian-Irish Safinez Bousbia on the trail of an Algerian popular music form called chaâbi ("of the people"), which flourished in the mid-20th century, but then faded into the background. Emerging out of the Arabian-Andalusian music that was being played in the casbahs of Algiers, it was taken to the level of full-fledged musical genre by the legendary El Hadj Mohamed El Anka, who used it to give expression to the feelings of common folk. In the 1950s, he led a chaâbi orchestra at the Algiers Conservatory, in which Arab and Jewish students played together. This film attempts to bring together the members of this orchestra, men who are now in their seventies. Their personal stories paint a picture of the country's turbulent history, with the war of independence proving to be a turning point. Some joined the struggle, while others had to flee after independence to France, where there was no warm welcome in store for these pieds noirs. Bousbia managed to track down many of the former musicians and bring them together for a reunion concert in Marseille, which forms the stirring climax to this sentimental journey into Algeria's cultural history.

First Hand
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