Ameur-Zaïmeche’s debut is a sterling example of the banlieue film that first emerged as an important genre in French cinema in the 1990s. (French for “suburb,” “banlieue” in this context refers to the Parisian working-class suburbs with largely immigrant and French-born Arab populations.) Although it abounds in incident, it largely eschews the overheated dramatics that made Matthieu Kassovitz’ La haine (1995) such a success. Wesh Wesh was a truly independent production shot on DV with a cast of non-professionals. Ameur-Zaïmeche stars as a young man who returns to his home in the housing projects after five years in prison and two in exile in Algeria. Wesh Wesh incorporates some oft-seen plot elements – the ex-con looking to go straight, tensions between the police and housing-project residents – in order to renew them with scrupulously detailed, impassioned realism.
Directed by Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche. With Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche, Ahmed Hammoudi, Brahim Ameur-Zaïmeche
France 2001, 35mm, color, 83 min. French and Arabic with English subtitles