LOS ANGELES, Dec 14, (RTRS): Salem Brahimi’s feature debut, “Let Them Come,” about Algeria’s “dark decade” in the 1990s when Islamist terrorism nearly destroyed the country, is one of the strongest titles in the Muhr Arab feature competition, and given the current state of world affairs, one of the most resonant.
“I wanted it to be a very relatable story, because it’s easy to theorize about terrorism, or hide behind terrifying figures of horror and faceless entities engaged in war,” he says. “So I thought it would be more interesting and challenging to provide a different, more intimate perspective. In any case, when I discovered the novel by Arezki Mellal ‘Let Them Come,’ I was sure this was the story I wanted to tell.”
The son of a diplomat, Brahimi was born in London, grew up in Algeria and Tunisia, then moved to France for university. He notes, “I wanted to become a filmmaker since childhood, and my parents supported that in principle … but at the time, being a kid from the Third World about to make his first steps in a changing world, my parents felt I needed to be able to make a living. And so I went to business school.”
Brahimi made his start in the film world as an intern with Michele and Costa Gavras’s production company, KG Prods. He recounts, “From one film to another, learning how to roll cables, carry equipment, Xerox scripts, location scout, I learned the ropes. It was very old school, from the ground-up film education. And I wouldn’t want it any other way as it made me feel very comfortable with the whole process of making films, and also with a film crew, on a film set.”
KG Prods returned the favor, producing “Let Them Come” and giving Brahimi his first producer credits. “Obviously, I feel very strongly about my work as a director and it is my priority. But I would never close the door on producing: working with other directors, other visions, other stories and work methods, is very stimulating,” he says.
Although it is a bit early to talk about his next projects, Brahimi confides that they are all fiction: two feature films and a TV series. He says, “They are probably a bit more playful than ‘Let Them Come,’ but they also all have pretty dark political undertones.”
“Mad Max: Fury Road” won the big prize from the Online Film Critics Society’s 19th annual awards, taking home the award for best picture of 2015.
“Carol” also came out as a big winner in the awards, announced on Sunday. The drama won three prizes: best actress for Cate Blanchett, supporting actress for Rooney Mara and best adapted screenplay.
Other awards went to “Inside Out” for best animated feature, and “The Look of Silence” won the top documentary prize. Michael Fassbender’s performance as the late Apple co-founder in “Steve Jobs” won him best actor, while Oscar Isaac was named best supporting actor for his work in “Ex Machina.”
* Best Picture:
Mad Max: Fury Road
* Best Animated Feature:
* Best Film Not in the English Language:
The Assassin (Taiwan)
* Best Documentary:
The Look of Silence
* Best Director:
George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)
* Best Actor:
Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs)
* Best Actress:
Cate Blanchett (Carol)
* Best Supporting Actor:
Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)
* Best Supporting Actress:
Rooney Mara (Carol)
* Best Original Screenplay:
Spotlight (Josh Singer, Tom McCarthy)
* Best Adapted Screenplay:
Carol (Phyllis Nagy)
* Best Editing:
Mad Max: Fury Road (Margaret Sixel)
* Best Cinematography:
Mad Max: Fury Road (John Seale)
* Non-US Films (Alphabetical Order):
Aferim!; Cemetery of Splendor; The Club; Dheepan; The Lobster; Mountains May Depart; Mia Madre; Rams; Right Now, Wrong Then; The Sunset Song.