In Mansourah, You Separated Us
Directed by Dorothée-Myriam Kellou • Documentary • 2020 • 71 minutes
An older man walks through piles of rubble—stone heaps and the remnants of walls. Like a host giving guests a tour of his home, he points out where kitchen, bedrooms, and other rooms once stood. “This is where I was born and grew up,” he says. “I lived here from the day I was born until they deported us.” IN MANSOURAH, YOU SEPARATED US tells the story of some of those deportations. It starts off seeming like a father-daughter story, as filmmaker Dorothée-Myriam Kellou accompanies her father, Malek, on his return to Algeria for the first time since he was a child. Malek, who lives in France, looks around his now-abandoned childhood home. He places the framed photo of his mother that he brought with him on a stack of boxes, and shares childhood memories—including of the time he was nearly killed by a flare set off by the French military. But Mansourah, his village, is no ordinary place. During the Algerian war of independence it was one of thousands of communities the colonial French rulers turned into resettlement camps for the more than 2.3 million Algerians forcibly displaced by the French military. The story of these deportations remains largely unknown, both in France and among younger generations of Algerians. IN MANSOURAH, YOU SEPARATED US shows the ongoing effects of this cruel policy, as Malek and Dorothée-Myriam visit people in the region with vivid recollections of the events. One man recalls his family being loaded into a truck and driven off while a French soldier insisted he remain behind. Another shows his scars from bullet wounds and talks about being troubled by the men he killed. Malek admits to ongoing nightmares. A group of Algerian freedom fighters took to the nearby hills, where the government bombed them with napalm. One of them, a fragile-looking...