“Qu’Allah” a great kickoff to French festival

A black and white film that tells a complex story. Though not a common pairing, director Abd Al Malik made it work in his film about his own life, “Qu’Allah bénisse la France!”

“Qu’Allah bénisse la France!” was the first film in the “Perspectives on France: A Tournees Film Festival” that is being hosted at Guilford throughout March and into the beginning of April.

The film tells the story of Regis, a young Congolese immigrant living in Strasbourg, France with his brothers and his mother.

The opening scene of the movie portrays Regis and his friends standing in the street. One of the young men throws a rock at a passing police van, and the police arrest the boys.

While inside the van, a policewoman questions the group, and Regis’ brother heavily insults the woman. Regis, disgusted by his brother’s words and disrespect for authority, publicly shames him and scolds him for his behavior.

This scene is one of many where the audience sees the world that Regis lives in. He is surrounded by violence and bad influences, and it eventually leads him to dealing drugs.

Regis’ life goal is to become a famous rapper, and throughout the film he hustles to open doors for his rap group.

After a life-altering tragedy knocks Regis down, he turns to religion for consolation, converting to Islam. He adopts his Muslim name, Abd Al Malik.

“Our old lives had to die,” said Regis to a friend.

Though he becomes a devout Muslim, Regis continues to pursue his dream of making it as a professional rapper.

Regis is successful, and eventually he becomes famous as a solo artist.

However, even after his boost in fame and in riches, Regis finds himself unhappy with an emptiness inside of him. He questions the choices he’s made in his life.

Regis heads to Morocco to find himself again in his religion, and he spends his time there worshiping Allah and strengthening his faith. It proves to be a life-changing experience for him, and he returns to France ready to move onto the next chapter of his life.

Regis marries the girl he had dated since he was a teenager, and after they say their vows, Regis yells out to the crowd, “May Allah bless France!”

The film did a decent job of telling Abd Al Malik’s story, featuring some talented actors and a powerful storyline.

As I was watching the movie, I was mostly confused as to what was happening. There was no clear sense of time, and often times it was hard to discern who was who, since most of the film focused on Abd Al Malek and his life story.

However, I appreciated the film more after it ended, and I had a moment to reflect on what I had gained from watching it.

I came away from the film with a number of questions.

What truly defines success? How does religion play a part in our self perception and how we define ourselves? Why did Regis ask that Allah bless France at the end of the film?

The film brings to light the futility of placing all of one’s happiness and expectations on a single goal, highlighting Regis’ emptiness despite having reached his ultimate goal of being a successful rapper.

I found Regis’ religious journey and his struggle with his sense of self in relation to Islam to be the most compelling aspect of the film.

Through his struggle with racism, classism and the violence that poisoned his neighborhood, Regis was able to find himself through his religion.

The last line of the movie, “May Allah bless France!” is telling of his relationship with Allah.

In his younger years, Regis feels disconnected from France because he is an immigrant and never felt like his presence was welcomed. However, as he gets older and converts to Islam, he recognizes Strasbourg as his home and wishes that the happiness he was blessed with is given to everyone else as well.

“Qu’Allah bénisse la France!” was an excellent way to kick off the film festival, and it is a promising start to what will be a series of politically relevant and powerful films.