Karim Moussaoui’s formally ambitious, insightful debut weaves loosely related stories of contemporary Algeria into a seamless three-part structure to reflect on his country’s past, present, and future. With echoes of Chekhov, he captures the challenges faced by several generations of Algerians searching for connection in a country divided by war and sectarian conflict. Moussaoui’s studied vision of the happenstance of everyday life recalls the understated rigor of masters such as Krzysztof Kieślowski and Abbas Kiarostami while exhilarating flights of fancy (such as an impromptu song and dance number on the side of a desert highway) lend hopefulness and joy to solemn themes. With Until the Birds Return, Moussaoui has positioned himself as a major new voice on the international film scene. In Arabic with English subtitles. 2017, France/Germany/Algeria/Qatar, DCP, 113 minutes.
A discussion and Q&A with director Karim Moussaoui and Joëlle Vitiello, professor of French and Francophone Studies at Macalester College, follows the screening.
Until the Birds Return plays once at the Walker as a part of Young French Cinema, a program of UniFrance and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and in conjunction with Moussaoui’s participation in the New Directors/New Films in New York. It premiered in 2017 at Cannes (Un Certain Regard).