Pour la France | For My Country

A screening and discussion with filmmaker Rachid Hami about faith, homeland, and integration


Fields of Knowledge
  • Aesthetics / Media
  • Memory
  • Politics / Economics

Organizing Institutions

Slought, Departments of Cinema & Media Studies and Francophone, Italian, & Germanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania

Contributing Institutions

Unifrance, and Villa Albertine

Opens to public





4017 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Slought and the Departments of Cinema & Media Studies and Francophone, Italian, & Germanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania are pleased to announce Pour la France | For My Country, a film screening and discussion with director, Rachid Hami about faith, homeland, and integration. The program, free and open to the public, will take place at Slought on Thursday, November 2, 2023 from 6-8:30pm.

In Pour la France | For My Country, Aissa Saïdi (Shain Boumedine), a young officer of Algerian origins, tragically loses his life during an initiation ritual at the prestigious French military academy of Saint-Cyr. His death rips his family apart as controversy arises over Aissa's funeral plans when the Army refuses to take responsibility. Ismaël (Karim Leklou), his older, rebellious brother, tries to keep the family united as they fight to win justice for Aissa. The film's narrative is built around the story of the Saïdi family, ever since Nadia (Lubna Azabal), the mother of Aissa and Ismaël, left her native Algeria and her husband behind, to move to France with her young boys. For My Country is a searing drama on social and racial injustices, offering an insightful perspective on what it means to be a European citizen with Arab roots and how this multi-layered identity affects the lives of each family member differently.

With nationalism gaining ground in France, Pour la France | For My Country challenges the many clichés that plague public debate and interrupts the cycle of films that present violent, depressing, or exotic stories about immigration and the banlieue. Like many Muslims, the Saïdis celebrate Christmas and feel deeply French without ever denying their roots. They represent the success of integration and the rejection of assimilation. They are complex, nuanced, different from each other, and all refuse the victimization into which they could fall. In this way, Hami offers us a modern image of a French Arab family and weaves together a constellation of themes including family, life and death, and the desire to belong to a country.

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Born in 1985, filmmaker Rachid Hami fled the Algerian civil war with his mother and brothers to find a better future in France. In 2003, Rachid Hami met Abdellatif Kechiche and later Arnaud Desplechin who supported his ambition to become a filmmaker. Following his 2005 short film No Effect Without Cause, Rachid made the medium-length film Choosing Love in 2007, a modern Romeo and Juliet starring Louis Garrel and Leïla Bekhti.

In 2016, Rachid Hami directed his first feature film Orchestra Class (La Mélodie), the story of Simon Daoud (Kad Merad), a distinguished and disillusioned violinist sent to teach the violin to a class of unruly students, which premiered in Venice.

"Hami crosses the boundaries of the often caricatured vision of French people of North African origin and the suburbs to render, at a very human level, all the complexity of what is the place of each person and the recognition of others in a family microcosm and in the macrocosm of France."

-- Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa

"Because my brother, born in Algeria, ready to die for France, and having done so earlier than expected, was not entitled to the right cemetery even after losing his life. They wanted to bury him in the Muslim plot of a suburban cemetery rather than in the military one. Dying was not enough. When you are nobody, you remain nobody until the very end."

-- Rachid Hami