“El Capitano” pays tribute to the first Moroccan immigrant workers in Belgium

Always faithful to his quest about the first generation of immigrant workers, the Moroccan director Bachir Barrou, based in Belgium, does it again with a new short film project entitled “El Capitano”.

In this new project, he stages the story of Inès, a young girl from a mixed Belgian-Moroccan marriage, who carries out fieldwork in social psychology, which she combines with a personal quest for rapprochement with his father’s culture. She wants to know the experience of her grandfather, who arrived in Belgium in 1968, with Ba Driss, his great traveling companion. Inès goes to meet him and experience a real immersion in the cafes, parchis games and memories of Ba Driss.

“The very first intention of this short film is therefore to pay tribute to the recently deceased, and particularly to the generation of the first Belgian-Moroccan immigrant workers. The idea of ​​making a short film on this subject emerged after writing an article on the subject”, explains Bachir Barrou. And to continue: “’El Capitano’ is a film which intends to capture a part of present-day Brussels. It approaches the issue of immigration from a contemporary angle, highlighting the courage of the generation of the first immigrant workers. It questions intergenerational links and the transmission of knowledge. It is precisely through the eyes and reflections of the main character, Inès, that we approach all these themes. His position as an ‘outsider’ reveals the contradictions and riches of multiple origins and the different identities linked to them”.

For the director of this short film, the temporality of the story of El Capitano refers to the multiple deaths that took place during a pandemic. Where the rituals, which usually make it possible to honor and “to mourn”, are put in parentheses.

For him, the audiovisual medium is used as a permanent education tool, aiming to create bridges between the cinematographic world and the social world. The idea is therefore, according to him, to anchor the design and the realization of this new project in a mixed team, which involves professionals and amateurs. “In making this film, I pay particular attention to the psychology of the characters and protagonists and to the power granted to words and speech. This project also invites the new generation, the children of immigrants, to express its pride in their elders. The “El Capitano” team is intercultural, including several children from immigrant backgrounds. To give them a voice is to uphold their multiple identity. To frame this project in the form of a fiction is to arouse their power of creation. Voices, identities, power and creation. The four watchwords to fully pay homage to our elders,” he concluded.

Hassan Bentaleb


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