In Kabylie, at the beginning of the century, a whole village is forced to flee from French oppression. A woman, Baya, refuses to break a custom: a feudal master, her husband’s murderer, gives her a bag of gold, the ddiya, to atone the blood spilt. Her rural community wants the money to be used to pay the war tax so that they can get back their land. Baya thus incarnates the untiring obstinacy of a certain form of honour. Beyond being what is known as the Berber permanence, this capacity to resist whilst remaining faithful to traditions, a language, and system of thought, Baya’s intransigeance serves as an example for a whole nation: Azzedine Meddour is indeed addressing contemporary Algeria in this fable set nearly a century ago.
In a powerful echo of Baya’s determination, the peasants manage to « awaken the earth » of an arid mountain by carrying thousands of barrels of fertile soil there and by building a perched village. La Montagne de Baya is thus a hymn to resistance, to courage, and to perseverance. The ancestral rituals and references are not the manifestations of a folklore, but, through myth, an exorcism of the forces of evil that ravage the human. Daughter of the spiritual leader, Baya battles for the survival of essential values, at risk of causing her own family painful sacrifices. The Algerian press were not mistaken in celebrating the film’s veritable return to the essence when it was presented in Algiers in November. Emotion undoubtedly also played its part, so close were the mishaps of the shoot to the unhappy reality. The perpetual interruptions caused by money shortages and the lack of security, and the terrible explosion that seemed like a terrorist attack, and which cost the lives of thirteen members of the crew, could have driven the director to abandon the film. But everybody encouraged him to finish it, accentuating the fusion between the reality and the fiction.
Like La Colline oubliée, therefore, the film imposes itself not so much in its cinematographic qualities, as in its necessity. Its message is far from being unimportant! The tenacity it develops acts like a blast of oxygen in the quest for references: memory, genealogy, and myth remain the necessary markers against the attacks on people and the scandals of a destiny.
///Article N° : 5295