Inside the NYJFF: Cultures collide in WWII-set Wedding Song
A selection of the New York Jewish Film Festival, The Wedding Song tells a story that deftly bridges the personal and political. A young Muslim woman, Nour, and her Jewish friend Myriam are close friends in World War II-era Tunisia, both preparing for marriage. But the Nazi occupation strains their fragile, cross-cultural connection.
NYJFF correspondent Ronit Waisbrod talked with filmmaker Karin Albou.
Ronit Waisbrod: Where did you get the inspiration for the story and was it based on a true story?
Karin Albou: At first, my main idea was to tell the story of a friendship between two teenagers, one Jewish and one Muslim who both live into a context of war. The film is built on a double narrative. The more political events drive the two girls apart, the more their position as women reunites them.
RW: Does your family have roots in Tunisia? Any autobiographical facets in the film?
KA: My family comes from Algeria. I got the idea of the historical background because once I helped my grandmother clean the house (I was living with her in my 20’s) and I discovered letters of my grandfather who was a POW in Germany.
I studied in a French schoool what happened in Europe during WWII. I thought that nothing had happened in North Africa. With these letters, I discovered that the Vichy government removed French nationality from all Jews from Algeria. They were French since 1870 and suddenly in 1940 they were not French anymore! I was in shock when I discovered that. Then I began to do historical research because I was passionate and I discovered that there was a German occupation in Tunisia. As a young adult living in Tunisia, I decide to write this script.
RW: What attracts you to Jewish themes?
KA: I don’t know. It is something I need to explore in myself at the moment. I don’t experience it as a “Jewish theme” but more as a personal and intimate issue I need to express. Sometimes I don’t even realize that my stories deal with Jewish themes.
RW: What are you working on now?
KA: I am working on an adaptation of Marguerite Duras’s diary. She describes how she cured her husband who comes back from Buchenwald. I would love to make a movie in the States, and also in Israel.
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