© Senator/Central

Heute bin ich Samba (Samba)
France 2014

Opening 26 Feb 2015

Directed by: Olivier Nakache
Writing credits: Delphine Coulin, Muriel Coulin, Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Principal actors: Omar Sy, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Tahar Rahim , Izïa Higelin, Isaka Sawadogo

Samba from Senegal has lived illegally in France for the last ten years. His precarious situation causes him to rotate between low-paying jobs like washing dishes or windows. Luckily, he shares these jobs with a good pal: Waled dt Wilson from Algeria (although he claims to be from Brazil). Wilson is always good for much-needed humor and friendship to combat loneliness. Samba’s secret dream to become a head cook seems about to come true, when he is offered such a position, based on his restaurant experience. He is so eager for the job, that he ignores all signs of danger and applies for a work permit. He is immediately arrested, detained behind bars, and faced with extradition under OLFT (obligated to leave French territory). In comes Alice, a French woman suffering from burnout. In order to experience something different, she works voluntarily at the refugee office. In spite of her bad English, she manages to talk with the foreigners and thus meets Samba, who says, “I don’t know my name any more.” She immediately falls for him and decides to make him her own personal case; she will get him his residency papers.

Actor Omar Sy is familiar from his lead role in the French film The Untouchables, also directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Tolédano. Here, they continue with their signature humor on a topic highly relevant, considering the stream of refuges coming into Europe, Germany, Hamburg. Here, I connected more personally than I could with The Untouchables, probably because I am also living in a foreign country, trying my best to survive, perhaps on a different level than Samba is forced to do, but I, too, sometimes “don’t know my name any more.” I can relate and sympathize with each of his stumbling blocks. Although Samba and Alice come from two different worlds, love makes them equal, a nice thought. I especially liked Tahir Rahim, who almost steals the show. (Becky Tan)

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