France, 2008, 110 minutes
Sat, Apr 25 / 8:15 / Kabuki / KHAM25K
Sun, Apr 26 / 12:45 / Kabuki / KHAM26K
Wed, Apr 29 / 6:30 / PFA / KHAM29P
In a Roma community on the outskirts of Marseille, 13-year-old Marco shows up after fleeing foster care. The changes he finds in the camp are not for the better: His beloved grandmother is dying, his father is leading a dissolute existence with a new girlfriend, his best friend Coyote has started on a path to delinquency and is determined to take him along. Between boyish dives into the familiar sea, their petty crimes become more and more bold. Tunisian-born French director Karim Dridi immersed himself in the Roma camp for a year and a half before shooting Khamsa; he hung out with the kids, met their families. Only then did he select his nonprofessional actors and begin improvising a script based on their experiences. The result is a vivid picture of Roma life and unvarnished youth. Relishing the gorgeous light that is unique to Marseille, Dridi employs an epic CinemaScope format to take in the breadth and chaos of the world these boys navigate—not just to make their story real, but to make it matter. Young Marc Cortes wondrously, almost wordlessly conveys the soul of his character: Marco’s strength and his bitterness, his desire for love and ultimately for order, his sweetness and his long-suppressed rage. But for all its focus on adolescence, and for all the pity it evokes in us, Khamsa is far from being a “coming-of-age” film. Marco hasn’t a prayer of an arc or a hero’s journey. He’s going down.
West Coast Premiere.