The director herself plays the role of a mother who has to witness a tragic event when her eldest son is killed by her youngest son. Sahraoui was awarded the Fipresci International Film Critics prize for her film about the problems Algeria is facing today. Sahraoui belongs to a new generation of Arab female filmmakers whose work is currently screened in EYE.
‘Yema’ means ‘mother’ in Berber, and it’s the mother figure who plays a central role in this taleabout the still unresolved conflict between extremists and the Algerian government.
Ouardia (Sahraoui) lives in a remote and arid region where the soil is poor. She tries to keep her garden, her only source of food, flourishing as best as she can. The news that her eldest son Tarek has been killed by extremist rebels is a terrible shock to her. It transpires that her youngest son Ali, a fundamentalist, pulled the trigger and was seriously wounded in the event.
The family drama is set against the larger backdrop of the civil war – unofficially ended in 2002 – that threatens to tear Algeria apart.