Centre Sandra et Leo Kolber | Salle Lucie et André Chagnon
In 1942, Paris is a city occupied by German forces. Younes (Tahar Rahim, star of A PROPHET), a young illiterate Algerian who lives precariously from the proceeds of small-time black market activity, is ultimately arrested by the French police who offer to cut him a deal. The police suspect that the Great Mosque of Paris, whose leader is the crafty Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit (Michael Lonsdale from OF GODS AND MEN), has been involved in providing forged i.d. documents to French Jews and resistance fighters, and they recruit Younes as their spy inside the mosque.
At the mosque, Younes meets a fellow Algerian, Salim Halali (Mamud Shalaby), the singer of the daily prayers. Touched by Salim's talent and his character, Younes and Salim become the best of friends, and soon Younes makes the startling discovery that Salim is actually Jewish! At great personal risk, Younes's collaboration with the French police is effectively over. Despite his lack of education and his initial political indifference, this simple immigrant gradually morphs into a freedom fighter.
Director Ismaël Ferroukhi (LE GRAND VOYAGE, 2004) based his story on actual events after consultation with historians. Did Muslims and Jews join together against a common enemy? The answer is a resounding "YES" and is chronicled in the recent publication of the book <i>La Grande Mosquée de Paris<i> by Karen Gray Ruelle and Déborah Durland DeSaix. FREE MEN is a superb wartime tale that unfolds a little-known piece of history and probes the transformative journey of one man reaching towards humanity.
2011 CANNES FILM FESTIVAL OFFICIAL SELECTION