Bab Sebta (FIDLab 2018) is the Arabic name of Ceuta, a Spanish enclave in Morocco, opposite Spain. Literally, it means “the door of Ceuta”. When you go through that door, you enter Europe. Director Randa Maroufi focuses on the parallel economy and the power struggles that occur in this geographic oddity. The action? Small cross-border exchanges of all kinds, more or less legal. The setting? A frontier represented by a flat, ostensibly theatrical surface, with lines on the floor to mark out various functions and areas, whose grey tones are evocative of the blank surface of a schoolboard waiting to be written on. And as a medium, Maroufi chooses a slow ballet and its rituals, shown from a double viewpoint: on the ground, on a human scale; and from above, like the gaze of a cartographer, structuring spaces, indicating administrative and practical distributions, like a surveillance helicopter. The camera goes from one viewpoint to another. The shots linger on never-ending lines of people who are busy fixing colourful bulging bundles, hiding food, or going through checkpoints. It is an endless stream of biscuits, electrical appliances, folded, rolled or piled up clothes, among all sorts of goods. We follow each and every movement of all these different events happening in the very same spot, like in a teeming fresco. This rigorous choreography of bodies, of individual and collective gestures, is enriched off screen by the diffracted tales of smugglers or customs officers, and by police announcements about trafficking, stunts and tricks, and all their unspoken tragedies. This reenactment, involving real smugglers, becomes an epic of sorts, which thwarts the foam and allows us to see an inhabited geopolitical cartography. (FIDMarseille)
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