A Roundabout in My Head

Hassen Ferhani
Algeria, France | 2015 | 100 min
Language : Arabic
Subtitles : French, English

A wise old man recites poems. A young man bangs into the walls of the tangible, hesitating between suicide and escape. Another navigates between realism and cynicism. The colours are stunning; the setting, striking. We are in Algiers’ largest abattoir, where employees exist between dream and reality. Hassen Ferhani patiently teases out their stories.

We are in Algiers’ largest abattoir with twenty-somethings Youcef and Houcine, who have big dreams but no resources; Amou, in his fifties, at times cynical but always pragmatic; and the old man Ali, who reels off visionary poems. At first glance, the quality of the framing and the colours are the striking aspects of this feature-length film by Hassen Fehrani. These very pronounced palettes of yellow, blue and red, of course, like blood. Then there is the time given over to speech, with a precision that is in no way ascetic. This patience in the gaze allows for some exemplary scenes, such as the one in which a football match on television and a cow being led with difficulty to its death are interwoven in the same shot. But the film does not dwell on the slaughter of animals. Instead, it considers the dreams, desires and frustrations of these men shut away in an almost prison-like space. Such as young Youcef, whose mind is a kind of roundabout proposing 99 paths, which he finally reduces to two choices: committing suicide, or attempting the crossing. Ferhani’s camera thus takes in the entirety of Algerian society.


Bertrand Bacqué

Atelier Hassen Ferhani

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