in "Our brothers", Rachid Bouchareb probes the injustice of a police crime

in “Our brothers”, Rachid Bouchareb probes the injustice of a police crime


He was walking quietly, rue Monsieur-le-Prince, in Paris. His name was Malik Oussekine. He was coming out of a concert. All around, clashes between students protesting against the Devaquet law, thugs and police had escalated. The power had decided to clean the streets. That night of December 5, 1986, the brigade of motorcycle acrobats – faithful to a tradition that dates back to Marshal of France Thomas Robert Bugeaud (1784-1849) – massacred him without qualms when he had taken refuge, panicked , in a building hall.

Even though a series in four episodes, signed Antoine Chevrollier, is currently broadcast on the Disney + platform, Rachid Bouchareb offers, in preview at the Cannes Film Festival, a feature film on this tragic event. A pioneer of a current which gave substance, from the 1980s, to the North African presence in French cinema, Bouchareb, 68, has never ceased, in his work, to return to this painful and long hidden memory (Native, in 2006 ; Outlaw, in 2010).

The sketch of the fable

The series, which has the privilege of duration, has chosen to reconstitute the event in its historical, memorial and family depth. Bouchareb takes a side opposed to that of this broad spectrum. His film is a sketch, his fable is tenuous. His intrigue lasts a few days, the time that the affair is constituted, in spite of the attempt to make it up. The pain and amazement of the families, associated with the lies and contempt of the Chirac government, are enough for his pain, and for ours.

The extreme sobriety of the realization, supported by an intensive use of period archives, identifies as closely as possible the injustice, and the shameful silence which accompanies it.

The author takes the opportunity to pay tribute, in parallel, to another murder victim, committed the same evening, in a bar in Pantin (Seine-Saint-Denis). An alcoholic plainclothes policeman pulls out his service weapon and shoots the young Abdel Benyahia, who was opposing a brawl, at point-blank range.

The director films the reactions of relatives, from whom the police apparatus tries to hide the truth, while having the cynicism and presumptuousness to incriminate the mores of the victims, not to say their origin. Oussekine and Benyahia, however, have done nothing except bear their name and their history, which justifies their fate.

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This extreme sobriety of the realization, supported by an intensive use of period archives, has no other purpose than to identify as closely as possible a feeling, which is that of injustice and the shameful silence that accompanies it. The film, antispectacular and not conducive to great sentimental organs, is, in this respect, a success.

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