“My father dedicated his life to me”

In a previous life, was Samir Guesmi, with a long silhouette, a relay runner, passing on the “witness” to others? The release of his first feature film, Ibrahim, a tribute to his father (now deceased), is akin to a long-term race: produced by Pascal Caucheteux (Why Not Productions), shot in February 2019, the film took the time to be crowned in the festivals and arrives in theaters, on June 23, with all its trophies: four prizes at Angoulême, including those for best film and best director, plus the grand jury prize at the Premiers Plans festival in Angers (European films section) – without forgetting the “Cannes 2020” label. The actor and director of Algerian origin plays a collective role: a film is made together, he says. The answers do not fuse, they infuse, because Ibrahim comes from afar, like the timeless music of the film by Raphaël Eligoulachvili.

The brick building, where the father and son live in “Ibrahim”, is almost a character. It is located in the neighborhood of your childhood, the 13e district of Paris. But “Ibrahim” is not really autobiographical, how do you place it?

I wanted to tell how a father and a son can be both very close, but also strangers to each other. It is a love that is based on an almost silent relationship. As far as I’m concerned, I would have liked to be less severe with my father. In retrospect, I realized how much I was wrong about him. My father dedicated his life to me, I want to say thank you.

What profession did your father have?

He was a specialist worker on construction sites, “OS”, as they used to say: it is the lowest denomination, he was the handyman. With this film, I wanted to tell that it is not easy, the story of all these immigrants who leave their culture, their family, arrive in France, work, think about leaving… Then life decides otherwise, they do children. They are not prepared for this double culture.

Before this feature film, you made a “short”, “It’s Sunday! »(2008), which was already a story of parentage …

Yes, he’s a kid who gets kicked out of college to be assigned to a technical high school. He has to get his daddy who is illiterate to sign the assignment. The kid makes him believe it’s a diploma, the father keeps the paper and goes to show it to his friends …

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