Opening 26 Apr 2018
A young Greek girl, Djam (Daphné Patakia), is sent to Istanbul by her uncle Kakourgos (Simon Akarian) to pick up a rare piece of equipment for his boat. She meets Avril (Maryne Cayon) from France, who is in Istanbul, hoping to work as a volunteer for refugees. However, Avril, without money or contacts, is way out of her league and needs help herself. Luckily, she meets up with Djam and they continue together on a kind of road movie.
The film is very worthwhile for several reasons: music, nationalities, and actors. Daphné Patakia, playing a girl from Greece, has Greek parents, but was born and raised in Belgium and speaks perfect French. Maryne Cayon is French. Simon Abkarian was born in France of Armenian descent, grew up in Lebanon, lived in Los Angeles and returned to France. Director Tony Gatlif was born in Algeria; his parents were from gypsy and Berber ethnic groups. The film takes us to Turkey.
Even more important, one should go for the music. It is called Rembetiko and arose around the beginning of the 20th century from a merging of Greek folk music and Ottoman Empire musical tradition in the sub-cultures of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. Director Gatlif says, “Rembetiko songs are songs of exile…I still remember Europeans leaving Algeria in the early 1960s, sitting on their suitcases and crying. I see Vietnamese boat people 20 years later, which reminds me of migrants of today. I wanted to show migrants of earlier times and today.” Definitely, a third good recommendationis lead actress Daphné Patakia, who was selected as a Shooting Star for the 2016 Berlinale Film Festival. As Djam she personally sings all of the songs; for this role she learned to play the instrument called Baglama, as well as perform the special dances. Filmed in Turkey and Greece. (Becky Tan)