Difficult journey through Algerian society

January 2007 -

Barakat is set in the Algeria of the 1990s, when a bloody war raged between Muslim extremists and the army. A complicated struggle so un-transparent that the question of 'qui tue qui' - meaning 'who is killing who' - became a common expression. The main character in Barakat, a young female physician named Amel, goes looking in the wrong direction while searching for her missing husband.


Still from Barakat

Together with her older colleague Khadidja she bravely approaches the hideout of a group of extremists. She does not find her husband there, and it is only the favour of the group's leader that enables the two women to get away. He recognises Khadidja, who nursed him early in the 1960s when he fought in the war for independence.

Without transportation or shoes, Amel and Khadidja embark on their difficult journey back. This journey comprises nearly half of the film and was filmed relatively slowly. Lengthy scenes with background music and silent characters simply staring into space are alternated with extremely brief dialogues. Sahraoui actually has Amel and Khadidja take a journey through the complicated Algerian society, filled with violence, betrayal, distrust and extreme unfriendliness towards women.

Barakat is a realistic film that exposes Sahraoui's background as a documentary maker. Amel comes closer and closer to the resolution as she gets closer to home. In the end, we learn that she should have started her search with her neighbours.

Barakat is Djamila Sahraoui's first full-length film. She started making documentaries of her home country of Algeria in 1990. Barakat was made possible by support from the Rotterdam Film Festival's Hubert Bals fund, and will be shown during the festival from 24 January through 4 February 2007.