Karim Aïnouz’s origin is a complex melting pot, in that he was born to a Brazilian mother and resides there, while his name is of Algerian descent courtesy his father, even though he hadn’t visited the country until now in his 50s. This duality imbued his marvellous and deeply personal docu Mariner of the Mountains, both in terms of its form and visual palette. It operated at an intriguing interjection between essay film, memoir, epistolary diary, travelogue, political inquiry, oral history and anthropology, and Aïnouz captured that through a myriad cinematographic means – vistas, kaleidoscopic montages, handheld cams, washed-out images, sepia-toned colours, black-and-whites, archival footage, etc. The resultant work, consequently, was elegiac, atmospheric and intimate, laced with melancholy and quirky humour. It chronicled his voyage from Fortaleza in Brazil to Algeria in order to know his heritage, meet family members from his father Majid’s side – who he never really knew while growing up – and understand the late Iracema who brought him up as a single mom. Heady political forces brought his parents together and separated them thereafter. They’d met and fallen in love while in the US as students; however, while the 1964 military dictatorship in Brazil compelled her to return home, he went back to Algeria with the dreams of building a new future for his country upon the Algerian War that freed them from colonialism and made it – along with Cuba and Vietnam – the then world capital of revolution. There he strolls through Algiers, visits his ancestral village in the Atlas Mountains, wryly reflects on the turbulent political destinies of Algeria and Brazil, and forms a more profound connect with his mother whose memories continue to haunt him.
Director: Karim Ainouz
Genre: Documentary/Diary Film/Essay Film