Keimena #11: Loubia Hamra (Bloody Beans)
by Narimane Mari

Monday February 27, 2017, 24:00 on ERT2
Loubia Hamra (Bloody Beans), 2013, Algeria/France, 88 min.
Director: Narimane Mari (documenta 14 artist)

Bloody Beans, Narimane Mari’s first feature-length film, is a dreamlike take on the violent spiral of Algeria’s recent history. Its force and beauty is that it does not employ a straightforward historical narrative, but instead re-enacts the past through play.

The unspoken subject of the film is Algeria after 1962, when the country gained independence after a painful war with France. Marking the end of the French colonial empire, this conflict long remained nameless and without an official history. Yet the countries’ destinies remained intricately linked, the specter of war haunting both sides. Soon numerous Algerians crossed the sea to seek work in French factories. Later the tide of crisis carried many back to the desolate shores of a society in ruins, grappling with the ghosts of its heroes, while France continued to pull the strings of Algeria’s economy and politics. Then the 1990s arrived, the black decade, another name for a civil war that revealed the corruption of the ruling power and brought the rise of the Islamic Salvation Front.

In Bloody Beans Mari observes these echoes in the bodies of today’s youth: sensual bodies, full of vitality, but also bodies in combat. If pleasure dominates the early scenes of swimming in the Mediterranean, then history soon rears its head, returning like a memory of water to inhabit the muscles of childhood.

Bloody Beans confronts tragedy with lightness and play. A game of war offers another means of liberating what was held in check in the past: the speech and poetry, farce and theater of life that refuse to be confined to a tragic destiny.

—Olivier Marboeuf, author, critic and curator

Posted in Public TV on 02.27.2017