The return to Algeria of a child of the country who has succeeded: with “Honorary Citizen”, a bittersweet comedy in theaters on Wednesday, Kad Merad confides to AFP that he was touched by this role tinged “with a very resonant personal”.
Born in 1964 in Sidi Bel Abbès to a Berry mother and an Algerian father, the actor whose real name is Kaddour Merad, of French nationality, lived only two years in Algeria before his parents settled definitely in France.
In “Honorary Citizen”, he plays a French writer of Algerian origin who won the Nobel Prize. In loss of inspiration, he accepts the invitation of his native village.
A contrasting homecoming: beyond the honors, some come to hold him to account under pressure from local Islamists, while the film shows a country plagued by political difficulties and censorship, with a freedom-loving youth.
“A lot of things touched me because there is necessarily a very personal resonance,” says Kad Merad. “I was born in Algeria. I do not claim to be Algerian, but as a Frenchman with roots”.
“My parents settled in Algeria two years before I was born, but came back to France because a Franco-Algerian couple was complicated…”, adds the actor.
“The film has a political tone, through the prism of comedy. We couldn’t not show the demonstrations of youth. Relations between France and Algeria are very special, complicated… I really hope that serenity finally sets in…”, confides Kad Merad who participated in the official trip to Algeria by President François Hollande in 2012.
“President (Emmanuel) Macron invited me in turn a fortnight ago, but I was filming abroad”, he specifies.
Mohamed Hamidi, the director of “Honorary Citizen” (shot in Morocco) wished “to show Algeria with all its wealth, its hopes but also its faults: an authoritarian power and a youth that is not heard”.
“Always fond of new adventures, drama or comedy”, Kad Merad will find in 2023 Dany Boon with whom he shot “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis”, for a film alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg.