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With “Their Algeria”, Lina Soualem signs her first documentary

The daughter of the actor Zinedine Soualem starts directing films by retracing the life of her grandparents, and their journey from Algeria to Auvergne, France. A movie between laughter, tears and family memories.

The title would suggest a documentary on Algeria, but it takes place in France. In the Soualem family, whose son Zinedine is already a well-known actor in France, granddaughter Lina decided to look into the past of her grandparents, Mabrouk and Aïcha, who arrived in Auvergne, France in the 1950s, before Algeria’s independence. 

“When I was little, I didn’t realize that we weren’t talking about Algeria,” confides the young director, whose documentary is both a tribute to her grandparents whom she admires, and a quest for her origins. 


“The whole idea of this film is to break this silence”


The documentary traces several journeys: the one of the migration of this young couple first, from one side of the Mediterranean to the other, the one of the grandfather to find work as a polisher in a cutlery factory in Auvergne, and finally the one of the grandmother “Mémé”, separated after more than 60 years of marriage, but who still loyally takes care of her ex-husband. 

Grandfather Mabrouk, who died before he could return to his native land, makes one of the rare confessions in front of the camera of his granddaughter : “He who leaves Algeria, he does not return.” 

Lina came back for him, and for the making of this film, as an ode to her grandparents.


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Published on 13 October 2021