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The film doesn't restage "Flies" on the Algerian coast.The balance of Mari's film follows this youthful militancy, replete with shouting but little violence – none perpetrated by the kids and none on camera – but a good deal of imaginative, sometimes highly photogenic, play.Documentary makers increasingly embrace formal practices once reserved for fiction film.Medjkane's camerawork makes it impossible to see "Loubia Hamra" as a doc, particularly the film's long nocturnal sequence – capturing the kids as they float, face up and eyes closed, on the water; posing statue-like in a French cemetery; shadow dancing against a flood-lit, whitewashed wall. These striking images are sheer aesthetics, taking the film into experimental territory that's hard to reconcile with a documentary tag. "Loubia Hamra" also feels like documentary because of the sly didacticism of its premise, reminiscent of something that might emerge from a process-based drama therapy workshop for kids living in marginal communities.The press book for "Loubia Hamra" is elusive, so how Mari cast her film is unclear, but she has created an object far more ambitious than a drama therapy document.Itself a form of performance, play provides an organic framework for the kids' semi-improvised acting – and alleviates much of the leaden quality afflicting much documentary re-enactment.
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