Barzakh

Alejandro Salgado

IndieLisboa 2020 •

Documentary, 2019, 73′

According to the Islamic faith, barzack designates a state of limbo, between hell and paradise, after earthly life. In the Spanish city of Melilha, situated in the North of Africa, several young people are in this limbo, yearning for a passage to Europe. They live waiting, inhabiting the caves and crevices in the mountains next to the harbour. In this timeless, ancestral space, they light fires, sing and search in the darkness for the light of another life.

The constellations of the lights on the distant shore of Spain are as unreachable as their look-alikes on the sky above for the group of boys stuck on the North coast of Africa in Alejandro Salgado’s first feature. Barzakh in Islamic culture is a state between life and death, and for the boys who try to make their crossing to Europe, it finds its earthly incarnation in the endless waiting on the cliffs, in-between the countries, the continents, the bare force of nature and the so-called ‘civilised world’, boyhood and adulthood. The boys are mere silhouettes against the scarce lights of the endless night, their shadows glide on the ancient walls of the caves, they have no names and no faces but they have voices to sign the songs about the land they have left behind and their dreams of the life that is yet to begin. (Mafalda Melo)