Tag Archives: Death For Sale (2011)

MIFF 2013 progress report #2: Death for Sale and Grigris

death-for-saleMy second Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) progress report looks at Death for Sale, which played as part of MIFF’s ‘New Arabic Cinema’ section, and the French/Chadian gangster movie, Grigris.

First up, Death For Sale. I loved everything about this Arabic take on the classic heist movie.

The setting is the working class port town of Tetouan, at the northern edge of Morocco. The film opens with two men, Malik and Soufiane, waiting outside a prison for the release of their friend, Allal, who has been inside for several years on drug trafficking charges.

Each of three men is dealing with their own issues. Malik lives with his sister, mother and a stepfather who he hates. He’s also got a major crush on Dounia, a femme fatale-type hostess at the town’s sole upmarket nightclub. Soufiane is a poor orphan who lives in the dormitory of a home for boys. Allal lives with his alcoholic father and positively seethes with unrealised criminal ambition.

Life is tough in Tetouan and every one does whatever they can to get by. The three men bag snatch when they can, Malik’s sister steals from the garment factory she works in, and Dounia whores herself. Life looks like it will go on, a slow burn of frustration and petty crime, until a police crackdown results in a large chunk of Tetouan’s underworld, including Dounia, being imprisoned.… Read more

Crime time at the 2013 Melbourne International Film Festival

grisgrisThe Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) approaches and, and as was the case in 2012, the good people at MIFF HQ have been good enough to give me media accreditation to cover some of the crime films on the program.

When I started to write this piece on my crime cinema picks for MIFF 2013, I realised nearly all my choices were films set outside of the Anglo world. This is in line with my usual practice of viewing films that I think are unlikely to get a mainstream release here. But it also reflects my growing interest in how developing or countries from the global South view and define crime cinema and crime and noir narratives.


One of my favourites from MIFF 2011 was the Congalese film Viva Rivathe story of a small-time gangster who returns from neighbouring Angola with a truckload of stolen petrol he hopes to sell Kinshasa at top dollar. I’m hoping that Grigis, a 2011 France/Chad coproduction is as good.

Directed by French-Chadian Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, it focuses on a young physically handicapped Chadian man who earns a living as a photographer and dancer in nightclubs, but yearns to make enough money to pay Mimi, one of the hostesses in the bar he works in, to marry him.… Read more