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Les chants de Mandrin | Rabah Ameur-ZaÏmeche, 2011
France | Format: HDCAM | 97 minutes
Louis Mandrin was a notorious, Robin Hood-like bandit in the years before the French Revolution; eventually, he was captured and executed, but his legend lived on in music, films and TV series. This is the point of departure for Rabah Ameur-ZaÏmeche’s fourth feature: following the hanging of Mandrin, members of his band set up a kind of underground network to publish and distribute his songs and stories, hoping to create “a framework for the republic.” They are helped in their efforts by the support of the Marquis de Levezin (Jacques Nolot), a wistful aristocrat who believes in Mandrin and his followers even though he knows they signal the end of his kind. Marking the director’s first foray into period filmmaking, Smugglers’ Songs nevertheless has a strikingly contemporary feel; shot on digital, and with a broad ethnic mix of actors, the film seems torn from today’s headlines even as it anticipates the Revolution. In person for March 8 screening: director Rabah Ameur-Zaïméche.