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Roundabout in My Head (Dans ma tête, un rond point)

New Voices in Cinema

/ Feature Experimental or Essay / Algeria, France, Lebanon, Netherlands, Qatar / 2015 / Colour
In Arabic / English subtitles
Rated: Parental guidance advised for viewers under the age of 15. Individuals under the age of 15 are not admitted into cinemas unless accompanied by an individual aged 18 or over.

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While it may seem strange to think of an abattoir as a place of peace and beauty, ‘Roundabout in My Head’ presents the oldest slaughterhouse in Algiers as just that. The film opens at night time, in a series of carefully composed tableaux that capture the well-worn spaces and the people working in them in a raw but somehow enchanting fashion. While each shot is to some extent grotesque – unsurprisingly, the evidence of industrialised killing is ever-present – the precise and painterly cinematography provides a sense of still life to each shot, driving us to focus more on the essence of the vision than its elements.

As daytime comes and the workers arrive, the film retains its careful composure, but we become drawn into the lives of the men who work here. Their troubles range from the fallout of the Arab Spring to bad cable reception; they muse about love, colonialism and the eternal wondering about what to do with one’s life – the film’s title is drawn from young Yusuf’s claim that there are a thousand exits to the roundabout in his head, but he has yet to find the one that is his.

Engaging and haunting, ‘Roundabout in My Head’ cleverly – and literally – reminds us that there is always life in the presence of death.