Surrounded by the desolation of the Algerian Sahara, Malika runs a simple shop. Truck drivers, fortune seekers and adventurers can get a cup of tea and an omelet, cigarettes or water. There’s always a chair free next to her, at the small table against the wall. Malika sees the people coming through the square windows in the thick walls, and watches them as they leave.
Anyone who doesn’t know her is curious about this woman here alone. Does she have no family, no children? She keeps answering the same questions, telling her story again and again—or for a change, out of boredom or annoyance, a variation on it. Director Hassan Ferhani unhurriedly documents her conversations. A layered portrait gradually emerges of this independent woman in a world that seems to exist outside of time. Yet the present eventually arrives at this remote outpost, in the form of a large gas station with a restaurant, built right next to Malika’s shop.