Directed by Narimane Mari / Alegria, France 2013 / 77 min
On an Algerian beach, kids splash about, sleep, squabble - and then suddenly go to war. And it’s neither Lord of the Flies nor La Guerre des boutons. In her first film, full of grace, Narimane Mari films this childish freefor- all closely, at the irregular pace of an imagination inspired by the highest form of reality, national History — actually, nothing less than the Algerian War of Independence. When their make-believe induces a general upheaval, we follow the flock of children as they stamp their feet up the stairs, invade houses, cross village squares, in a whirlwind of shouts and empty words. Time is stretched like in a dream, through a choreography of belligerent shadows or the night-time explosion of the cemetery, as so many warning signs of dangers to come. Because Loubia Hamra also makes a bold switch. Instead of focusing on overwhelming tragedy — colonialism, war — she replaces it by frailty, for instance with the “small fish without a message” that float through the Mediterranean, like a moving frontier opening and closing the film. Serious like in children’s games, History is given the infinite dimensions of a fantastic shadow play, and is even more grave since childhood isn’t swallowed by it, but rather floats on top, an uncompleted rival, still free from an inescapable fate.