Films & Schedules

  • Khamsa

  • Karim Dridi

110 minutes

Production Company:
Mirak Films
Karina Grandjean, Karim Dridi
Karim Dridi
Antoine Monod
Lise Beaulieu, Marie Liotard
Michel Brethez
Principal Cast: Marc Cortes, Raymond Adam, Tony Fourmann, Mehdi Laribi, Simon Abkarian

International Sales Agent:

Friday September 0512:30PM SCOTIABANK THEATRE 2 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 0605:45PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Wednesday September 1007:00PM VARSITY 1 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

In the nineties, Karim Dridi's films led the charge of the new French cinema, works that captured the chaos, euphoria and frequent violence of a society convulsing with change. His films Pigalle and Bye-Bye were about Muslim hashish dealers, transvestite prostitutes, neon-lit mean streets and the too-wise young boys who observe it all as they grow up. Although mainstream French cinema subsequently abandoned these films as a trend, the characters they depicted have not gone anywhere.

Dridi's latest is set in a Roma community on the outskirts of Marseille. It is a place of hard living, cockfights and petty crime, and it is where thirteen-year-old Khamsa (Marc Cortes) returns after fleeing his foster home. His Roma father abandoned his North African mother long ago, and now lives from bottle to bottle in a small trailer. In one plainly disturbing scene, Khamsa's father and his girlfriend invite the boy to get drunk, and the trio end up partying well into the night.

Khamsa's style is observational, offering no judgment of its characters or their behaviour. So when the boy is enticed into petty crime by his friend Coyote (Raymond Adam) – who introduces him to Rachitique (Mehdi Laribi), a local who is never short of plans for getting quick money – it is a path that seems to arise naturally from his surroundings.

For a year and a half before shooting, Dridi immersed himself in the Roma camp where he eventually shot Khamsa, even buying a trailer so he could sleep there. After finding the non-professional actors that he would cast in the film, he worked with them for four months before shooting, improvising scenes drawn from their real lives. This approach translates into a rough immediacy onscreen. Dridi decided to shoot the film in CinemaScope, which captures the full breadth of the camp and uses an epic format to portray what are too often seen as small lives. When Khamsa launches into a decisive act at the end of the film, the widescreen gives it both authenticity and glorious poetry.

Cameron Bailey

Karim Dridi was born in Tunisia. He has written and directed a number of feature films, including Pigalle (04), Bye-Bye (95), Hors Jeu (98), Cuba Feliz (00), Fureur (02) and Khamsa (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award