Daughter of Keltoum

The rugged slopes of North Africa's Atlas Mountains form the backdrop for this meditative Algerian drama (2001) about family ties. Working as a model in Europe, Rallia (Cylia Malki) openly courted the gazes of others, but when she comes back to settle accounts with the mother who abandoned her at birth, she follows local custom and dons the hijab. Traveling with her addled kinswoman (Baya Bellal), Rallia crosses the Maghreb, encountering hardy Berbers, elusive resistance fighters, and an agitated simpleton along the way. Geography is destiny in the hands of writer-director Mehdi Charef (Tea in the Harem); Rallia turns out to be as obdurate as the landscape she sprang from, and only slightly more forgiving. In French and Arabic with subtitles. 101 min.

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