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the tragedy of a family like the others told on Disney +

Disney + offers from May 11 its new original French creation in 4 episodes, an exciting and moving portrait of a family and an era. Meeting with its creator, Antoine Chevrollier, at Séries Mania.

Paris, winter 1986. Students are demonstrating against the Devaquet university reform project. The police are on their toes. On December 5, Malik Oussekine (Sayyid El Alami – Messiah, such a long night ), 22, coming out of a jazz concert, is chased and beaten by a team of acrobats on rue Monsieur Le Prince. Blows that will lead to his death. Oussekine comes back to this “affair”, its political and societal consequences, through the prism of the young man’s family. His mother Aïcha (Hiam Abbass – Succession ), his brothers Ben Amar (Malek Lamraoui –The Office of Legends ) and Mohammad (Tewfik Jallab – gears ), as well as her sisters Fatna (Naidra Ayadi – Blank Zone) and Sarah (Mouna Soualem – You deserve a love) will never stop fighting for justice, supported by Master Kiejman (played by Kad Merad). The fiction reconstructs this long fight, punctuated by flashbacks that reveal the personality of Malik and that of his relatives in their intimacy. An integrated, united family, eaten away by grief. But also a family with, like the others, its dissensions, and members with different aspirations who will not experience the events linked to the tragic death of the youngest child in the same way. A family that, in any case, touches the viewer to the heart. Produced by Route Productions, this remarkable mini-series in 4 60-minute episodes was created and directed by Antoine Chevrollier (The Bureau of Legends, Baron Noir ). We met him at Séries Mania in Lille in March where Oussekine was previewed.

TV MAGAZINE. – What is the genesis of this project?

Antoine Chevrollier. – It was time to recount this dark page in French history that took place 35 years ago. It’s not in the history books and it had never been told in fiction. I heard Malik Oussekine’s name for the first time in 1995 in a rap piece by the group Assassin, on a compilation around the film Hatred titled The state kills. It stuck with me. I started to do some research and I realized that through the trajectory of Malik, we could tell something much broader that resonates strongly today: police violence but also October 17, 1961 (repression murder, by the French police, of a demonstration of Algerians organized in Paris by the French federation of the FLN), a State crime still not qualified as such.

The French are rather hesitant when it comes to looking at their recent political history, is that why you called on Disney?
It’s true. But working with Disney was a coincidence. Route Productions agreed to develop the project. Then Disney picked me up after seeing my work on The Office of Legends to find out if I had something they might be interested in. They immediately joined. I haven’t met any other broadcasters.

Should we focus on the family to increase the phenomenon of recognition?

Yes, moreover the series is not called Malik but Oussekine. It’s a series about the family, she’s the main character. It was a founding intention, the philosophy of the project, because we quickly realized that approaching Malik’s death in an external way was too journalistic a treatment. With the tools of fiction, even on a true story, we wanted to bring it back to the intimate: what does it feel like to lose a son, a brother – innocent moreover? It’s not an artifice to get the viewer to adhere, but we were aware that we were touching on something universal in this way. That our characters would not be put in a sociological, ethnic, religious box. But the series offers other facets, in particular a more political one, the instrumentalization of the case. We also tell how Malik has also become the symbol of a whole youth with perhaps a misunderstanding at the start, or even the machinery of the State which is set in motion to cover up police blunders…

Sayyid El Alami plays Malik Oussekine. Disney+

What did you find most amazing?

Malik’s personality, his convictions, the choices he was making for his adult life. On the political level, the instrumentalisation, from left and right, manipulation via the extreme right press organ Minute used by the executive power to smear the family and discredit their demand for justice. But this is not sufficiently substantiated to be able to assert it.

Did you meet the family beforehand?

Sure. We had long talks to build a relationship of trust. They brought us information, just like Georges Kiejman also did. We traveled behind the scenes of the affair by meeting the various protagonists. The prism being that of the family, it was morally impossible to tell this story without the agreement of its three still living members.

What were your directing biases?

I wanted it to “sweat the era” but with something a bit modern in the image. I didn’t want to “granulate” to tell the 80s, not to have this plastic, superficial patina, which creates a distance.

What about working with actors?

I proposed to those who embody the three living brothers and sisters to meet them. The entirety of the four episodes was rehearsed for a month, to have this feeling of real family but also to find the note, the beat of the film.

What do you expect from this series?

Above all, I hope to pay tribute to the Oussekine family, a form of recognition, that this name be pronounced in a more noble place than it could have been. I also think of today’s youth. A sentence by Souleymane Diamanka (French Senegalese slammer) says: “Hate is a sorrow that has become infected“. This grief around the death of Malik, this badly negotiated turn politically, societally at the time means that now some may have a somewhat belligerent feeling towards the forces of order. We all hope to heal the wounds. But maybe that’s a little naive on my part.

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