The Interpreter, based on field research by geographer Makrem Mandhouj, proposes a perspective on mobility towards Europe as it can be perceived and experienced from the Maghreb. The video evokes the time between a clandestine crossing of the Mediterranean Sea at the end of the 90’s and a recent forced return. The narrator acts as the interpreter of the words of two young fishermen and former smugglers met in a village near Monastir, in Tunisian Sahel. He indicates the conditions in which these meetings took place and he comments on the process of filmmaking itself. The Interpreter renders an account of the difficulty of putting into narrative one’s own history, as well as of the possibility of openly testifying in a context of criminalisation of undocumented migration and deprivation of freedom of speech.
A polyphony of tales by migrants who return to their homeland after having lived abroad. Whether they are Vietnamese, Iranian, Chinese, Pakistani, academics, political refugees or students, they all are confronted with a second exile: coming home. They also share the capacity to analyse the differences between the cultures they have lived in with humour, critical distance and lived experiences. This experimental documentary moulds this polyphony of tales in a minimalist, impressionistic form. Only a few traces of images, of travelling, of material culture, appear above the voices and soundscapes, just as there remain only shadows and memories of their presence abroad.
“The point of departure of Amanar Tamasheq is the exciting adventure of the filmmaker in trying to transform the video camera into the most powerful weapon while travelling with the Tuareg rebels in the desert of Mali. A people always under threat, their terrible history is constructed here in their own words in a text which is brought upon the images in the form of subtitles. The images are as far as possible from the imagery and language with which violence is generally narrated, and acquire thus a political and radical strength rarely seen before.” (Cahiers du Cinema ES)