Barakat! – A Film Well Worth Your Time

December 1991 marked the beginning of the Algerian Civil War, as conflict broke out between Isalmist rebels and the government of Algeria. It was a war that raged violently until the Islamic Salvation Army surrendered in 2002, but as with all wars many innocent people died. Approximately a hundred and fifty to two hundred thousand people lost their lives, family members went missing and an estimated seventy journalists were assassinated before the end of the war. It is in this confusion, pain and time of fear that the story of Amel starts, and sets the scene for the movie “Barakat!”

The movie Barakat! was written by Djamila Sahraoui and Cecile Vargaftig and they used the war in Algeria as the backdrop to a moving story of love, devotion, determination, camaraderie and sacrifice. Djamila Sahraoui also directed the film, with Rachida Brakni (as Amel) and Fattouma Ousliha Bouamari (as Khadidja) in the lead roles. This French/Algerian film was released on 16 February 2006 at the Berlin Film Festival, and was received with rave reviews and praise.

The film follows the story of a doctor, living and working in Algeria during the time of the Civil War. Her husband is a journalist, and on her arrival home from work, she discovers that her husband is missing. Immediately fearing the worst, Amel seeks help from the authorities but they merely dismiss her pleas for aid. Running out of options and with the refusal of assistance from authorities, Amel decides to take matters into her own hands and search for her husband herself. This means that Amel will have to go into the most dangerous part of the country, the foothills. Khadidja, an older woman who lives near Amel, knows that the journey will be treacherous and forces Amel to allow her to join her. Khadidja calls upon her skills learnt while fighting against the French in her earlier years to navigate them through enemy territory. Both women realize that they are very different from one another in many aspects, but their determination to defeat the enemy and accomplish their mission brings them closer together.

Viewers will find this dramatic film to be a depiction of the human spirit, courage and what can be achieved when faced with life threatening situations and life saving decisions. During the Dubai International Film Festival, Barakat! won the Best Arab Film Award and it walked away with three awards at the 2007 Panafrican Film and Television Festival, namely the Best Screenplay, Best First Work and Best Music Award. Barakat! is definitely a movie worth watching!