Review: The Song of the Living


The song of the living

France: 2021
Original title : –
Directed by: Cécile Allegra
Screenplay: Cécile Allegra
Performers: Cécile Allegra, Mathias Duplessy
Cast: The Twenty-Fifth Hour
Duration: 1h22
Genre: Documentary
Release date: January 18, 2023


Synopsis : Survivors of the long road, Bailo, Egbal, Chérif and the others arrive in the village of Conques, in Aveyron. There, an association, Limbo, allows the group to rest for a while. All have buried the memory of their exile. Thanks to a musical work, they will try to bring back this walled word in the form of a simple song.

A rebirth through song

Conches, Aveyronone of the most beautiful villages in France, particularly renowned for its Sainte-Foy Abbey and as a milestone for pilgrims from Compostela. A minibus drops off a small group of young African men and women in the village at night. Pilgrims marching to Spain? Unlikely: we saw them leaving Paris by train and arriving at Conches in this minibus. With great gentleness and tact, the director will lead the viewer to understand why they are there. Very quickly, we witness face-to-face interviews between Cecile Allegra and the members of this small group: they confide in the events that happened to them, Cécile takes notes. There is a lot of talk about the Libyaof the hell that this country represents for those who had to go through this country to join theEurope. Worse than hell, even, because “to enter hell, you must have done something that deserves hell, and we only travelled. Everyone has the right to travel! What did I do to be raped, to be beaten, to be mistreated, to not have to eat for several days, to go 6 months without bathing? “.

coming fromEritreaof Sudanof Somaliaof Guinea Conakryof Nigeriaof ground floorthese African men and women who relate, sometimes with difficulty, to Cecile Allegra are migrants who have experienced the hell of Libya. And now their emotional lyrics allow them to give birth to songs with the help of the musician Mathias Duplessy. We feel that the weight of the pain which invaded these men and these women is transferred little by little in these songs which take more and more substance. Their authors and performers are becoming more and more confident, they are opening up to life again.

The director Cecile Allegra chose not to give details on what constitutes the environment of this film which won awards at numerous festivals and which was broadcast on France 3 last June. Was she right, was she wrong? Anyway, it’s his choice! However, perhaps you will be interested to know that this Franco-Italian documentary filmmaker has made several films on exile and human trafficking, that she has been crowned Albert London Prize in 2015 for his feature documentary Trip to Barbarydevoted to the trafficking of human beings in the Sinaimostly Eritreans, and in 2016 she felt the need to create Limboan association aiming to “repair” survivors of trafficking and torture in Libyayoung men and girls suffering from serious post-traumatic stress as a result of the serious violence and human rights violations they have suffered.

Since its creation, six times a year, during school holidays, the association has accompanied Conches a dozen of these survivors housed in Reception Centers for Asylum Seekers, and, every day, in “this village where time passes slowly”, they and they take part in art therapy workshops around dance, music or theatre. The song of the living was filmed during 3 stays of such a group, the first during an autumn, the second during the following winter, the third during the summer. The surroundings of Conques change in appearance over the seasons, the progressive liberation of their words, the setting in song of their words, manage to make these survivors become alive again. What we hear at the end of the film is really… the song of the living!

Review: The Song of the Living – Film Review