Yann Mounir Demange quite literally blasted onto the scene back in 2014 with his feature debut about a stranded British soldier (Jack O’Connell) with nowhere to hide, but to move forward in a hostile Belfast circa 1971 (hence the provenance of the film’s title ’71). Born in Paris to a French mother and an Algerian father, the filmmaker would establish himself in the British film scene before Hollywood came knocking and yet we feel that it’s with his short, Dammi where we find the filmmaker at his most personal. Launched at 2023 Locarno Film Festival (with a trip to TIFF shortly after), this professional palette cleanser (before he sets off to make Blade) brings him back to his roots, and this is mostly due to a creative partnership formed with Rosa Attab (producer on Lynne Ramsay’s You Were Never Really Here). Sometimes it takes someone to help bring to the surface some memories we keep in check or think are better left unsaid.
Featuring Riz Ahmed, this is essentially a quest to finding your identity through the POV of another (Souheila Yacoub) who helps fill out and find the will to take on the corners of the psyche. Paired with Ava Duvernay’s Origin at the Red Sea Film Festival where I finally got to see it, I asked Demange and Attab about how the screenplay and collaboration came about, and discussed his connection to 1966’s The Battle of Algiers.