Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche's South Terminal (2019) is exclusively showing on MUBI in the Viewfinder series.
My name is Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, and South Terminal is my sixth film.
A film which blurs the tracks, which has no borders. Neither place nor time are clearly defined. Is it the Algeria of yesterday? The France of today, the Europe or even the world of tomorrow? The chaos generated by the contemporary economic order is accompanied by authoritarian drifts which do not concern only Algeria or France. The return of reactionary mechanisms all over the world proves this.
South Terminal was filmed in the south of France exclusively, in Nîmes, Istres, Miramas and Grasse, however it carries ramifications from the colonial campaigns, through the war of independence up to the dark years that Algeria experienced in the 90s. This allowed us to transpose Algerian history elsewhere, to explode the frameworks and thus to reveal the violent, repressive and ruthless nature of States, whichever they might be.
A “terminal” is precisely the place where raw materials taken from the earth are stored. This is where oil and gas come in. Countries are ready to do anything to keep control of this energy market. It’s very violent. And if the violence remains off-screen in the film, I nevertheless wanted to make it palpable by first filming very wide, then gradually approaching the hearts of men suffocated, gangrened by fear... a fear that consumes bodies and souls and allows chaos and confusion to spread in all social relationships.
I had written the role of the main character, a doctor who measures the reign of the absurd and receives all the human pain of his patients on his shoulders alone, thinking of playing him myself. But I could not see myself immersed in this state... When I combine the roles of actor and director, I give, consciously or not, the general mood of the shoot. On Story of Judas, my previous film, I was very raw, hypersensitive, feverish. No one could ask much from me on set… so I didn't want to repeat this experience. By entrusting the role to someone else, the excellent Ramzy Bedia, I was suddenly more peaceful, more serene.
South Terminal describes the loneliness of human beings and the way in which men and women can find themselves crushed by anguish, fear, terror... All of this can be seen in the flesh, in the light of the eyes, even in the radiance of the sun above people. I wanted to stay as close as possible.