The River

Abdenour Zahzah, Algeria, 2013, color, DCP, 86'
Synopsis

The Oued El Kebir River in Algeria has its source in Blida-Atlas at 1,525 meters (5,000 feet) and ends some 60 kilometers (37 miles) later in the Mediterranean, close to Algiers. During a journey on foot along the river, director Abdenour Zahzah encounters mini-societies of people who give us a very different picture of Algeria. We meet a man who is worried about the Nestle factory, as it is only offering disadvantages to his village – from the razed playground to the increase in traffic. Another man is indignant about when they started having to pay for water back in 2007. Further down the river, someone is washing his van, while still another is wandering through a decrepit windmill that closed down in the dismal 1990s, when the area fell to terrorists and the first large-scale massacre took place. Downstream, people live among rats and garbage dumps, and homeless kids drink aftershave. "Don’t broadcast these images abroad," one man calls from his bike. "The French will say, 'Look what happened to the Algerians.' But we are doing well."

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