News  ·  02 | 08 | 2023

Exploring the Meaning of Lost Arab Identity


Behind Paris there is always Algiers. There’s a special power in this mantra that leads the viewer by the hand through the wonderfully rich imagery of Dammi, the new short film project by acclaimed director Yann Demange (’71, 2014; White Boy Rick, 2018). We are invited to explore the meaning of a lost Arab identity, that of the protagonist, a man who returns to his birthplace searching for his roots. There he meets a French-Algerian woman, and together they move through surreal fragments of past memories and present occurrences. The mantra also evokes a multi-layered vision of Paris, a metropolis embracing multiple cores and liminal spaces. It’s a city which is very dear to Demange, who was born there but then moved to London when he was just a few years old. In this sense, Dammi is possibly his most personal work to date: a film melancholically populated by the ghosts of the lives that we may have lived under different circumstances. Produced by Alexandre Mattiussi (founder and creative director of fashion brand AMI) and co-written with French producer Rosa Attab, the film was initially conceived as an experimental hybrid documentary, but it then morphed into a fictional, non-narrative emotional journey, abstractly designed around complex structures of feelings: longing and belonging, losing and regaining, connecting. Dammi stands out as a strong cinematic experience also thanks to the spectacular cast that infuses the story with an emotionally affecting intensity. Oscar winner Riz Ahmed confirms his singular bravery and sensibility in approaching a character who navigates the vulnerability of self-discovery. Souheila Yacoub – revealed in Gaspar Noé’s Climax and to be seen next in Dune: Part Two – shines as one of the brightest talents of her generation. And then Isabelle Adjani, an icon of world cinema, gracing the screen once again with her unparalleled charisma.

Eddie Bertozzi