Opening 14 Jul 2016
Farmer Fatah strokes his cow Jacqueline in a field in a small Algerian village. His wife Naima complains that he actually has two “wives,” of which the cow gets more attention. Fatah receives a letter inviting him to come to Paris and enter his cow in competition at the Salon International de l’Agriculture or SIA, International Agricultural Trade Fair. He can’t believe his luck. The villagers combine their efforts to get him and Jacqueline on the boat to Marseille. From there his brother-in-law Hassan is expected to help. Naturally, from this point things go awry and we have a road movie. Or does it count as a road movie when one sets off on foot for Paris – with a cow? There are wonderful adventures over several weeks such as a night in a castle, a demeaning photo which reaches his home village, a magician, and angry French farmers on strike, etc. Fatah smiles through it all, both the positive and negative, including even a temporary disappearance of Jacqueline. He never doubts that he will reach his goal.
Unterwegs mit Jacqueline is definitely one of my favorite films this year. Fatah is in the situation of being a foreigner in a strange country, so that he can observe without having to judge – much like many of my international friends in Germany. He is also accepted on the same grounds; after all, what should we expect from someone who might speak the language, but can’t even read, much less write, a love letter to his wife – a task which no one from Algeria would attempt in the first place? The annual International Agricultural Trade Fair in Paris should benefit from the publicity. (Another upcoming film from the same site is Saint Amour with Gérard Depardieu, to open in Germany on October 13.)
Director Mohamed Hamidi resides in France, but was grateful for the opportunity to return to his home country, Algeria, to make the film. It is a truly international topic treated with wonderful humor for all to enjoy. (Becky Tan)