Harraga BluesOriginal Title: Harraga Blues
Director: Moussa Haddad
Algeria | Arabic
In Harraga Blues
, veteran Algerian director Moussa Haddad (see also Inspector Tahar’s Holiday
, page 96) ventures into a different genre; his latest film is a raw and timely examination of his young countrymen who long for a new life across the sea.
literally means ‘those who burn’ in Arabic. It is a term commonly used in Algeria to refer to the thousands of young, desperate men who seek passage to the developed world each year via illegal immigration. In Harraga Blues, Zine and Rayanne plan to flee to a dreamland, a fantasy haven on the north shore of the Mediterranean. The crossing is commonly made in fishing boats and other small craft; hundreds of harragas die each year. Zine embarks for Spain with a group of others, while Rayyane decides to stay back to raise more money for the crossing – which involves
tricking his uncle into lending him money under the pretence of running a local business. In the process of struggling to leave his country, Rayanne learns more about it than he ever did, affecting his mind and soul in ways he has never experienced. Meanwhile Zine becomes lost at sea, eventually rescued by the Algerian coast guard and brought back home. Overwhelmed by the hardship of his voyage he tries in vain to convince Rayanne not to go into exile. But, like so many other working poor around the world, Rayanne refuses to weigh the danger against the prospect of a better world.
– Tamara Malhas