Brazilian filmmaker Karim Aïnouz traveled to Algeria to find his roots in his father’s hometown. When he found himself in the middle of an uprising, he changed his plans.
The Revolution of Smiles—weekly peaceful demonstrations held across the country in the spring of 2019—was initially directed at preventing a fifth term of office for President Bouteflika. Using a smartphone, Aïnouz records a day in the life of protester Nardjes A., from the moment she leaves home in the morning until dawn 20 hours later. This articulate and passionate young woman, a daughter and granddaughter of resistance fighters, takes the maker to her friends in the center of Algiers, where the demonstrations are held. The result is a spectacular record of a mass protest, which makes us feel as if we are actually there, in the thick of it.
Nardjes voices young people’s frustrations about their hopeless future and the disappointment that for many has ensued from the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962). Her fighting spirit seems to be exemplary for a new generation in Algeria.