Avant que les flammes ne s’éteignent (AFTER THE FIRE) (France 2023) ***
Directed by Mehdi Fikri


Injustice against minorities is often favourite fodder for French films, (BATIMENT 5 (LES INDESIRABLES) and LES MISERABLES by Ladj Ly being prime examples.  In an immigrant French suburb of Strasbourg. Karim, a 25-year-old man, has died at the hands of the police. Devastated by the news, his estranged sister Malika (Camélia Jordana) reunites with her family, compelled to seek justice for her slain brother.  The police claim the death is due to an epileptic fit due to drug taking.  Strategizing with mentorly community organizer Slim (Samir Guesmi) and suave private lawyer Mr. Harchi (Makita Samba), Malika soon begins to face a courtroom battle with overwhelming media exposure, while contending with the growing chaos of her hectic everyday — missed daycare meetings, a failing business, and a strained marriage. But she and her siblings Driss (passionately played by rapper Sofiane Zermani, a.k.a. Fianso) and Nour (Sonia Faidi) are anchored by their renewed blood ties. Together they harness the fire of public outrage against a racist criminal justice system.  Director Fikri shows some sympathy for the authorities with the pathologist and the guarding police officer allowing Malika total photos of the bruises from the beatings of the dead brother’s corpse while also showing the judicial process and the court case preparations.  The sight of the bruised body also gets the emotions of the audience going.

The film opens Feb 2 in theatres.


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