August 2, 2021

glances between generations on summer holidays in the Maghreb


Since the 1970s, for many generations of Maghrebian immigrant children born in France, summer has been the time for vacation in Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia, the country of their parents. The collective memory is marked by the thousands of overloaded cars heading for the Mediterranean. Linda Bendali, investigative journalist, looked at part of her own intimate story to recount this journey, “Back to origins” for parents – so-called “first generation” immigrants -, “Unknown universe” for their children.

How did these children experience the confrontation between the “fantasized country” and the reality of the “bled”? The film does not ignore the reception conditions of their parents in France or the about-faces of French migration policies. But above all he wants to be “A tribute to a whole population that we always look at in the light of its attachment to France and that we never question in that of its gaze on the country of origins”, explains the documentary filmmaker, who claims the register of tenderness.

Because it is of affection and attachment, as much to France as to the country of their parents, that speak the diverse voices of the ten men and women. “From 35 to 59 years old” brought together by Linda Bendali. Proust’s madeleines follow one another for viewers who have experienced these summer migrations. The car trip, over two or three days, trying both physically and emotionally; first strong family moment which allows the sacrifices of long months to come to fruition in order to afford the means to leave. “Our hotels were the gas station”, remembers Abdel Alaoui.

Extremely rare images

The suspended moment of the Mediterranean boat trip. “We look around and realize that it’s the lot of many people who look like us”, testifies Chadia Chaïbi-Loueslati. Finally, the arrival on the Maghreb lands, sensory, emotional and emotional shock, family reunion, the joy of discovering one’s place in a lineage, but also the conflicts of loyalty which do not fail to arise.

Read also: “La route du bled”, three days of travel, between joy and nostalgia, to find your loved ones

In France, as parents’ dream of returning collapsed, their children walked the streets to demand equality in 1983: “It is the political birth certificate of the second generation”, says the director.

The strength of the film lies on the one hand in the extremely rare images that have been collected and contextualized, in particular by the historian specializing in immigration Naïma Yahi: these are the images of witnesses, who were able to afford recent camcorders. at the time, or cameras. And in the story, on the other hand, where emotions find their place, which children and parents themselves make of these moments so intense both in their family life but also in French history and heritage.

Good kisses from the village, documentary written and directed by Linda Bendali (Fr., 2021, 52 min). Aired as part of the program “La Case du siècle” on France 5.