Who is there ?
Qui est là ?
- Souad Kettani
- 54 min
- e2p / entre2prises, Damien Froidevaux
In an ordinary suburb, away from the French capital, another world peeks from the fringes of this one, a world of djinns belonging to the night, connected to a distant origin.
Jinns, these malicious spirits from the Islamic tradition, mainly show themselves after nightfall. The different people gathered together by Souad Kettani have experienced them : one has heard them in the Senegalese bush, another in her kitchen, yet another was possessed by one… Whether or not these demons exist, one thing is certain: the memories are very much alive. The stories attest to the different uses of beliefs: as tools for social control or ramparts against madness. « Qui est la? » reveals in all lucidity the way in which one culture comes to the rescue of another: a sura in Arabic brings the protection that was lacking, a reference from a Hollywood film helps to describe a supernatural experience more effectively. And when you are unable to find a job, the jinns provide a more acceptable explanation than the fact that a formerly colonial country greedy for foreign manpower deprives so many of its nationals of a decent life. The shots depicting the architecture of a town in suburban Paris where the different witnesses reside reinforce the bitterness of this observation: the desolation of the places inevitably appears as a void to be filled. The jinns then become the synecdoche of the survival of an exogenous cultural heritage among the immigrants and their descendants. A heritage that can stigmatise, but also serve as refuge: in a society inclined to segregation, the jinns are the link between here and over there.
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After obtaining her agrégation in philosophy in 1990, Souad Kettani joined France Culture as a producer. While continuing to teach philosophy in high schools, in 2002 she trained at the Ateliers Varan, where she made her first film. In 2006, she made Je pense, a documentary showing the initiation of final-year high-school technology students to philosophy. This was followed In 2009 by Musiques, a film on teaching music at the conservatory in Saint-Denis, her town of residence.