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A 19 year-old Swiss woman travels to her birthplace - an isolated, barren Berber settlement in the mountainous desert landscape of Algeria - to find her biological mother, who she has never met. The perilous journey immerses her in a world virtually untouched by contemporary society, one that still clings to tribal mores and strict religious codes of conduct.
This intriguing film, written and directed by the impressive Mehdi Charef, follows Rallia (Cylia Malki), a 19-year-old Swiss woman who goes looking for her biological mother in a remote Berber region of Algeria.
With the dialogue being so minimal it therefore becomes loaded with meaning and there's a similar situation with the various events; the significance of it all is just too apparent. Furthermore, the neatness doesn't allow the film to breathe quite as it should. Whereas The Circle [Directed by Jafar Panahi] documented the lives of its Iranian women through a La Ronde-style structure so as to emphasise the fact that this is always going on, Keltoum's Daughter never lets us see beyond the film itself. It remains an interesting work nonetheless, but this key difference prevents it from being quite as good as it could be.
First Run Feature
City Pages, Minneapolis
A dream-like fusion of what Paul Bowles described as the 'actual desert and the inner desert of the spirit'.
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