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Abdenour Zahzah

In 1953, Dr. Frantz Fanon from Martinique takes up his position as head doctor at a psychiatric clinic in Blida, Algeria. Racist colonial psychiatry dominates everyday life in the clinic. The French are housed separately from the Muslims, and the conditions in the Muslim unit are shocking: patients are restrained and tranquilised against their will. Fanon introduces a new approach, which includes group discussions and greater responsibilities for the nursing staff. He initiates a patient newspaper, a café, the site for a football pitch, and helps restore the mosque. He increasingly supports the clandestine Algerian resistance movement. This feature film by Abdenour Zahzah was made in Blida, and the episodes are given a charge by the committed performance of Alexandre Desane in the title role, and by the protagonists involved, including Fanon’s son Olivier, who plays a friend of his father’s. The project is based on conversations with those there at the time and the comprehensive research carried out for the documentary Frantz Fanon, mémoire d’asile (2002, Abdenour Zahzah, Bachir Ridouh), which is developed further here by means of fiction.