Free Men | Chicago Reader

Free Men

Ismael Ferroukhi's 2011 drama has already come under fire in its native France for supposedly overstating the Muslim protection of Jews during the Nazi occupation. Certainly Ferroukhi hasn't done himself any favors, politically or artistically, by mixing fact and fiction: the true story of Si Kaddour Ben Ghabrit—an Algerian immigrant who served as rector for the Great Mosque of Paris and may have issued as many as 1,500 certificates of Muslim faith to Jewish citizens—shares screen time here with an invented and rather ill-defined tale in which a young Algerian (Tahar Rahim) agrees to spy on the mosque for the Vichy government but later throws in with fellow Arabs in the resistance. The fine actor Michael Lonsdale (Of Gods and Men) cuts an imposing figure as the elegant Ben Ghabrit, whose cultural sophistication and complicated position at the intersection of three powers would have made for a much more engrossing picture. In French with subtitles.

Credits

Director:

  • Ismaël Ferroukhi

Cast:

  • Tahar Rahim
  • Michael Lonsdale
  • Mahmud Shalaby
  • Lubna Azabal
  • Farid Larbi
  • Stéphane Rideau
  • Francois Delaive
  • Jean-Pierre Becker
  • Marie Berto
  • Zakariya Gouram
  • Christopher Buchholz
  • Bruno Fleury
  • Slimane Dazi

Producer:

  • Fabienne Vonier

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