To all but the hardcore followers of Algerian music, the names of the performers on this double-CD set will mean nothing. But to those who love (or want to discover) the roots of modern Algerian music, these 30 tracks, culled from the vaults of Algerian radio, are a treasure trove. From the sha'bi (or chaabi) style, the people's music with its accessible sound and sweeping lyrics, and frequent guitar accompaniment, or the roots of the better-known rai, the hawz, or the folk Kabyle style, which was revitalized after the Second World War (well-represented here by Slimane Azem, this covers a very wide and gratifying range). Probably the only familiar track here is the stirring "Ya Rayah," which was covered in the mid-'90s by Rachid Taha, although in its own way, the original rocks very hard. But never mind the unfamiliarity; this is all remarkable stuff indeed, performed with a rare fire and grace.
This film takes us through the rituals and significance of Algerian traditions by following three different wedding ceremonies. We speak to heritage researchers about Algeria's marriage traditions and see how engagements and arrangements are formalised. This film is an intimate look at the preparations and rituals of these rich and sumptuous family celebrations.