Welcome to the Florence Gould Hall at the French Institute Alliance Française! We are happy to present Inch’ Allah Dimanche, a film by Yamina Benguigui as our December Young Audience Program at FIAF.
We made this study guide to help you introduce your students to the film they are about to watch. From the cultural as well as from the social point of view, it is our goal to make this moment unique and enjoyable for all.
OF THE GOOD AUDIENCE MEMBER
We expect the students to behave correctly. We kindly ask you to ask them:
Please let us know about your comments after the event. We will be happy to improve thanks to your feedback, and of course, proud to hear your praise! (At firstname.lastname@example.org)
In 1974, Zouina leaves her native Algeria, with her three young children and domineering mother-in-law, to join her husband in France, who has lived and worked there for the past ten years. Zouina’s unhappiness at leaving her home and family behind is increased when her new sour-faced neighbors take a dislike to her, and her husband beats her for disobeying him. But Zouina finally begins to feel a sense of acceptance when she meets a cosmetics factory worker who sparks in Zouina an interest in French culture and her new world. This curiosity and her longing for freedom and experience drive Zouina to take secret excursions with her children on Sundays, the one day that her husband and mother-in-law are out of the house.
Inch’Allah Dimanche was written and directed by Yamina Benguigui; Cinematography by Antoine Roch; Editing by Nadia Ben Rachid.
Fejria Deliba Zouina
Zinedine Soualem Ahmed
Marie-France Pisier Madame Manant
Amina Annabi Malika
Rabia Mokedem Aïcha
Anass Behri Ali
Mathilde Seigner Mademoiselle Briat
FRANCE, COLONIZATION AND DECOLONIZATION In order to understand the historical background of Zouina’s story, we need to go back in time. Algeria, the north-African country where the film’s heroin is from is a former French colony.
FRANCE’S COLONIES France is not only the part of European land that spans from the Atlantic Ocean on the West to Germany on the East, and Belgium and the North Sea in the North to Spain, the Mediterranean Sea and Italy in the South. Various governments since the 16th Century and until 1945 have thought it a good idea to expand across the globe, as new territories were discovered, to supposedly bring civilization, which was considered going hand in hand with Catholicism, but also to gain power and take advantage of the local resources. That is how you find French people in America (Acadia, Canada, and of course Louisiana), in Asia (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, a big part of India), in the Middle-East (Syria, Lebanon, and an attempt in Egypt), in Africa (Senegal, Mauritania, Gabon…) and several islands around the oceans (Haiti/Saint-Domingue, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Madagascar, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Polynesia…)
Finally, the closest colonies to France were located in Northern Africa, just across the sea from the French Riviera: Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria.
Algeria had a special place among the colonies for several reasons. It has a very rich soil that contains oil and various other precious minerals. It was also a large melting pot of people that could be put in three categories: the native Algerians, who were mostly Muslims; the French colons, mostly Catholics; and a bunch of people who had immigrated from different countries around the Mediterranean sea (Spain, Italy…) who had settled down there to do business, a lot of whom were Jewish. Algeria had been given the status of “French department”, which meant that all inhabitants of Algeria we supposedly French citizens, in rights and duties. Unfortunately, it seemed that the native Algerians had been excluded from this category and were considered “second class citizens”.
A PAINFUL DECOLONISATION When the Second World War broke out, the whole Western world engaged in a fight for freedom from dictatorship (Hitler, the leader of Nazi Germany, with his allies in Italy and Japan) was trying to gain control of Europe first, than expand to the rest of the world. France, with the help of the United States, Great Britain and the USSR, resisted and the dictators were finally defeated. But this victory for the Western world made the native people of the colonies realize that they were actually under the oppression of a foreign country and decided it had to stop.
From 1945 until 1962, France saw its colonial empire dismantled. For most of the countries who became independent, the transition was smooth; it mostly consisted in negotiations and compromises. But two countries were not let go easily by France. The first one was Indochina that had been invaded by the Japanese during WWII. In 1946, France tried to regain control over it, but the Vietminh, an independent group led by Ho Chi Minh had already fought against the Japanese and was not ready to take the French back in. The French were to try for 8 years but had so many severe casualties that they gave up after the battle of Dien Bien Phu. Which is when the United States decided to try to do something about it, and ended up getting trapped in the Vietnam War. But that is another story.
Right after the end of the war in Indochina, the French colonies of Africa started to rise and demand independence. By 1960, most of them had been granted independence but Algeria. In 1954, the F.L.N. (Front de Libération National) was created to fight France that refused to grant citizenship to the Muslim population of Algeria. France did not want to let go and the war broke out, threatening to expand to France itself, since a party of right wing military officers threatened to stage a coup d'état against the government if they agreed to Algerian independence. After several reversals and turnaround, a peace and independence agreement was finally signed in 1962.
IMMIGRATION, INTEGRATION AND MELTING POT After all those years, the impact of decolonization can still be seen in French society and French politics:
BRINGING WORKERS In the 1960s, France had a lack of manpower in low-qualified manual labor and encouraged men from the former colonies to come and work. It was a win win situation: the men were getting economic opportunities that they did not have in their own country, and France was getting a cheap workforce. The immigration procedures had been made extremely easy.
In the 1970s, in order to accommodate the immigrants better, some legal measures were taken so that they could bring their family to France. This is what happens to Zouina in Inch’Allah Dimanche. But the social habits of Algeria were not the same as those of France, especially in terms of the importance and freedom of women compared to men.
THE EID EL ADHA In the movie, we hear about the Eid El Adha (meaning “the great celebration” - also known as Eid El Kebir). This festival is one of the most important in Islam. This celebration is observed to commemorate the willingness of prophet Abraham when he was asked to sacrifice his own son Ishmael by God as an act of obedience (this episode of sacred history is also capital in Christianity and Judaism). Abraham showed his readiness and Allah was very pleased. A lamb was sacrificed instead of Ishmael on Allah’s command. Muslims offer congregational prayer on the day, and afterwards, those who can afford it sacrifice animals to seek the pleasure of Allah. The meat of the animal is shared amongst poor, relatives, neighbors and friends.
IDEAS OF DISCUSSION - What do you know of the history of the colonies, whether French, British or others (American, Belgium…)? And of the people who emigrated? Try to find comparisons.
- Some will find the film a little excessive in some points, and not very believable (the time-period of the action, the French xenophobic neighbors…). What do you think?