Snackbar: stories of integration, friendship and marginalisation
As has been the case for a few years already, Generation 14plus, the ‘adult’ version of the section dedicated to films for young people, Generation (former Kinderfilmfest), of the Berlin Film Festival, continues to bestow pleasant surprises. And this is certainly the case of Snackbar [+see also:
film profile], the debut feature film by Dutch documentary-maker of Turkish origin, Meral Uslu (winner of the Golden Calf at the Best Documentary in 2005 with My father’s children).
In her first fiction film following a career spanning twenty years, with a decidedly documentary-style slant the director recounts the days of a group of Maroccan boys, whose meeting point is a bar in a multi-ethnic district of Rotterdam (the snack-bar of the title) run by fifty-year-old Turkish man Alì (Ali Cifteci). Their stories all resemble each other: not much more than teenagers, born in Holland or immigrants, they have already had trouble with the law and their life consists of bets, drugs, thefts and other acts of violence.
Indifferent to the adult world, disinterested by studies and work, even derided by girls, angry and in search of an identity – be it ethnic, social or religious – the boys gain strength from the pact of brotherhood which unites them and which justifies any act of bullying.
Their only anchor is Alì’s snack-bar, who, like a surrogate father, laughs with them, understands them, tells them off and occasionally throws them out of his bar.
As in a documentary, Mohamed, Mounir and Nouredin talk about their days, their difficult past, their friendships, integration and marginalisation while the director follows, camera in hand, the daily brawls for which Alì always acts as a mediator – at least up until the day the problems come to overwhelm him too.
Uslu loves her creatures, even though they are fragile, dangerous and restless, and, without ever judging them nor psycho-analysing them, she follows them in their small steps towards adulthood and in the innocence that is left and which has been lost all too soon.
Snackbar, shot in Arab, Turkish and Dutch, is a co-production between Lemming Films, Volya Films and Cinema Delicatessen (Netherlands), with the support of Netherlands Film Fund and Rotterdam Media Fund.
(Translated from Italian)
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