Samir Guesmi – Ibrahim: “The theme of the father-son relationship haunted me”

Accustomed to supporting roles, he signs, with Ibrahim, his first feature film as a director, awarded four prizes at the last Angoulême festival. Portrait.

It is one of those faces that gives the lie to the all too widespread idea that the time for great supporting roles is over in French cinema. No, everything was not better before! Since 1987 and its appearance in Yellow revolver alongside Sandrine Bonnaire, Samir Guesmi is much more than a worthy heir to his glorious elders. Thriller, comedy, drama, fantasy, from Alain Chabat to Arnaud Desplechin via Bruno Podalydès, Agnès Jaoui, Nicole Garcia or Noémie Lvovsky, it evolves with mastery in all registers. With this art of disappearing behind his characters instead of trying to exist at all costs. A majestic discretion which is evidently also deployed in its (too) rare leading roles: Andalucia by Alain Gomis, The aquatic effect by Sólveig Anspach and … Ibrahim, produced by him. An almost silent role for his first feature: that of Ahmed, scale in a brewery, unable to communicate with his teenage son who begins to make four hundred strokes, just to provoke an exchange.

This story of a father-son relationship, Samir Guesmi has had in mind for a long time. At least since 2008, the date of his first short film, It is Sunday, where a kid expelled from school made his father believe that he had obtained a diploma. “I was bitten like never before. I understood that achieving, for me, was an accomplishment. I wanted to repeat the experience“We are surprised that it took twelve years to get back to it.”I took the time to find out what I wanted to write. I thought I was done with the theme of the father-son relationship and incommunicability. But the subject continued to haunt me“This long-term work, he carries out it for a long time alone, the time to get to precisely define his history.”From the start, I had the climax of the film in mind: the father’s caress on his son’s cheek. But inevitably, you wonder if it can hold. How to tell a daily that repeats itself? How to film boredom without getting bored?

Ibrahim 5
The pact
Ibrahim 4
The pact
Ibrahim 3
The pact
The pact

The time of innocence

We can easily imagine that he knows the character of Ahmed by heart. He corrects: “I know the kid a lot more than the father. Or more precisely, I only know this father from the kid’s point of view“Besides, playing Ahmed, he didn’t want to,”but the envy of my producer and more intimate things led me there“. As if to extend a story rooted in reality.”but taken elsewhere by my dreams about my characters“. To play the son of Ahmed, he searched for a long time, finding the rare pearl only two months before the first clap.”I wanted to find a kid with no experience“He will meet him on a Sunday hanging out on a soccer field, as one would recognize a member of his family.”What immediately impressed me about Abdelrani Bendaher was his listening skills. But listening to the other is three quarters of the actor’s job“This philosophy, he will pass on to him, like a father to his son, seeing himself as a beginner at his age.”I would have liked to have his presence and be noticed in the street. ”

However, it was also while strolling in Paris that he contracted the gambling virus. “One evening, I ran into a bunch of cool comedians chatting on the sidewalk. They invited me to their comedy class. It cried, it laughed, it played with crazy intensity. I have been there once, twice, three times. Then I signed up“Watching his young partner, he fondly recalled that time of innocence.”I realized that my experience had taken me away from spontaneity. However, that is the actor’s goal: to be able to say words like the first time, with each new role. Do not gentrify. “This face-to-face was like a reset which made him savor his return as a” simple “actor on his following sets, as Parents of pupils. But he also further reinforced his desire to direct.”I have ideas in mind that I will have to go provoke a little. I don’t wanna wait ten years this time around.” We neither !

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