SERIES – Malik Oussekine has become “kind of an icon of popular protest”, but for 35 years “no one had really leaned on him to tell his story”. The director and co-screenwriter Antoine Chevrollier tackled it with accuracy and weight in the miniseries Oussekineof which 4 one-hour episodes have been available on the Disney+ streaming platform since Wednesday 11 May.
The story is that of this young 22-year-old student, French of Algerian descent, who died on the night of 5 to 5 under the beatings of the policemen of the “vaulting platoon” in the hall of a building in the Latin Quarter. December 6, 1986, on the sidelines of student demonstrations against the Devaquet Act. But it would be far too simplistic to say just that.
Behind the Oussekine symbol, pain
A “generational tragedy” for actor Slimane Dazi playing Malik Oussekine’s father in fiction, an “important social fact to be regarded as such” for Antoine Chevrollier, the series agrees to show how much the Malik Oussekine affair is anything but news is item. It is clearly today inextricably linked to the fight against police brutality, but is also closely linked to the history of post-colonial immigration through the Oussekine family’s trajectory. It also evokes the political situation of France cohabiting or the social context. Without forgetting the family drama at the heart of these four episodes based on an impeccable cast.
“We wanted to go behind the frozen portrait that we saw of Malik on the boards of the demonstrations,” explains the . from HuffPost Faïza Guene, author and co-screenwriter of the series alongside Cédric Ido, Julien Lilti and Lina Soualem, “to show that behind the symbol, behind the name, there is a real story, a pain”. To achieve this, the story is divided into three different layers that coexist.
First the present time, following Malik’s family’s struggle to the trial of the two police officers, then another focusing on the young man’s final hours. Finally, the last layer details the individual history of the Oussekine family in that of France, such as this poignant reconstruction of the October 1961 massacre in which Algerian protesters are thrown into the Seine by the police.
The series also doesn’t forget to mention how the French state lied about the circumstances of his death and tried to “justify” the beatings of its police officers. “Warning, if we don’t find anything [sur Malik Oussekine], they will martyr us,” launches the character Robert Pandraud, deputy of the Secretary of State for Security at the time of the events. It was he who, three months after the tragedy, caused a new controversy by sending to journalists of the… monde that Malik Oussekine was “not the hero of the French students they said” and added: “If I had a son who was on dialysis, I would prevent him from being fooled at night”.
While writing and even filming, Antoine Chevrollier could count on the “blessing” of Sarah, Ben Ammar and Mohamed Oussekine, sister and brothers of the young student who was beaten to death by the police in 1986. Thanks to long interviews, as well as meetings with some of the actors of the fiction, they “allowed to truthfully load the story”. The director, to whom we owe episodes ofgearsby Office of Legends or from Black Baronalso spoke to the lawyer of the Oussekine family, Georges Kiejman, the resuscitator who intervened on the night of the tragedy or even the police and journalists following the case.
And regardless of the reading level of the story that the viewer will be most sensitive to, one can only focus on the fate of this 22-year-old college student, played on-screen by Sayyid El Alami. Before taking the full brunt of the deep injustice of this violent death that the series doesn’t hide from showing. “To accept you have to feel, and to feel you have to see. So we also had to show this violence,” says Antoine Chevrolet, when asked about the difficulty of filming the scene where Malik Oussekine is beaten by the police.
“Justice through Memory”
The two members of the “motorcycle acrobat platoon”, Brigadier General Jean Schmitt and goalkeeper Christophe Garcia, aged 53 and 23 at the time of the events, were tried three years later at the Paris assizes for “battery and injury resulting in death with no intention of committing suicide.” to give it.” On January 27, 1990, they were sentenced to suspended prison terms (5 and two years, respectively).
At the time, these convictions were “a first,” lawyer Georges Kiejman reminds AFP, reminding that the police officers involved in such incidents have never been prosecuted until now. But for the family of Malik Oussekine and thousands of French people, the injustice is immense. About 2,000 people demonstrated two days after the trial in front of the Palace of Justice against “this leniency sentence”.
Since then, the story has been told too little. Neither the cinema nor French television had gotten a hold of it. Until this series from the American giant Disney+ in four episodes, this Wednesday 11 May online worldwide. Coincidence of the calendar, Rachid Bouchareb presents the film our brothers, which is also inspired by it, shown at the Cannes Film Festival.
“It was really time to make a fiction based on these real facts,” emphasizes the actor Slimane Dazi, “so that the individuality of this family history wakes up the collective unconscious. must bring life.” To “bring justice in a certain way through the memory”, the interpreter Sayyid El Alami completes.And never to be forgotten.
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