Review of “A Woman Alone” by filmmaker Ibrahim Fritah

Morocco/France 2005, 24 min

Director Brahim Fritah

By Nadia Muhanna

I have to admit, I wasn’t very excited about watching a documentary on modern slavery because it’s a very well explored topic in Syria. I’ve already shed a lot of tears over films and TV shows tackling this issue and I wasn’t yearning for another sob story! However, watching less than 10 minutes of Moroccan French director Brahim Fritah’s A woman alone, I realized this film was going to be different.

“Legba’s story is already a tough one and I didn’t want to make a social reality film in a TV like manner with a lot of sound and visual effects that make people cry their heart out.” says Fritah. Instead, he preferred to depict the story in an abstract way.

Although the film is a portrait of Legba who travels with a Togolese family to France only to be enslaved by them, we never really see her except for a few moments at the very end of the film. Instead, Fritah uses a lot of close up photos showing only details of Legba’s village in Togo, places she went to and even Legba herself.

“I only photographed fragments of things to convey that she’s only part of the whole thus illustrating how lonely she was on one hand and to trigger people’s imagination on the other hand.” he says.

Indeed, Fritah did trigger imagination by showing us a washing machine turning the clothes upside down when Legba describes how she fell over the stairs and the buzzing white and black TV screen when she sees snow for the first time.

As the only sound we can hear along the film is Legba’s voice telling her story, the film gives the impression of a woman leafing through her family album and thinking aloud.

“Just because you chose to film a social tragedy you don’t need to put it on screen as it is! You can always do something different and creative!” he says.

As for Fritah, he certainly did! A woman alone is an unconditional portrait by an unconditional director. A must see!

Published in Point of View Dox Box Documentary Film Festival’s daily bulletin. To download the daily bulletin in both Arabic and English click here