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The joyous and vibrant sound of rai - a centuries-old Algerian folk music known for its often racy and politically charged lyric, and influenced over the years by flamenco, jazz and, most recently rap-gorgeously suffuse 100% Arabica’s culture-clash story.
In a housing project located on the outskirts of Paris renamed "100% Arabica" by its inhabitants, African immigrants live side by side. The residents are united by their struggle for recognition in a society where immigrants are often regarded as second class citizens. In a world of exiles, poverty is the common denominator. Against this backdrop, director Zemmouri has brought together two of the biggest and most charismatic stars of the cross-cultural musical form known as Rai, Cheb Mami and Khaled, who play the leaders of a band called Rap Oriental. As the band of musicians starts to gain in popularity, the Imam of the local mosque (Mouss) tries to destroy them by stirring up racial and cultural tensions. However, no one can stop the infectious popularity of the songs in this story of music triumphing over bigotry and violence.
|France|1997|85 mins|comedy|French with English subtitles|Mahmoud Zemmouri, dir.|
Official Selection, Venice Film Festival, 1997.
“The joyous and vibrant sound of rai - a centuries-old Algerian folk music known for its often racy and politically charged lyric, and influenced over the years by flamenco, jazz and, most recently rap-gorgeously suffuse 100% Arabica’s culture-clash story. Rai, performed by real-life stars Khaled and Cheb Mami, is an eloquent and essential element of the film, and the music’s power to captivate is greater than that of Julia Robers and Bratt Pit combined.” – Nicole Keeter – Time Out NY.
“The conflict in Mahmoud Zemmouri’s 100% Arabica is an old one, familiar from innumerable rock ‘n ‘roll, twist a The music’s most ardent opponents are the Islamic equivalent of those finger-wagging Christian elders in the 1950’s who denounced rock ‘n ‘roll as the devil’s music. Algeria’s Islamic censors, of course, are not to be trifled with. In 1994, the singer Cheb Hasni, known as the “prince of Rai”, was assassinated under a fatwa, a death warrant issued by fundamentalist Islamic leaders. As a result, many of Rai music’s most popular musicians, including the stars of 100% Arabica now live in exile in Paris. But as 100% Arabica demonstrates, many social tensions in their homeland followed these immigrants into their impoverished neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris as the movie pits a group of hip, attractive young people who are devoted to rai against the less attractive, religiously conservative squares who want to shut them up…. " Stephen Holden – New York Times
Bonus Short film with DVD: ROTATING SQUARE
Egypt, 2002, surrealist comedy in Arabic with English subtitles, Ahmed Hassouna dir.
Sami and his wife Sarah are packing to move to the USA where they intend to open a restaurant. Rania, Sarah's sister, goes to their house to take them to the airport, but some unexpected and unforeseeable events take place in the apartment: games of seduction, murder and dead bodies to be disposed of. A surrealist comedy by Ahmed Hassouna who belongs to a new group of young promising Egyptian filmmakers.