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A group of musicians, torn apart by history and brought together by music, get their moment of glory in the documentary El Gusto. Wandering through the narrow streets of the Kasbah of Algiers, filmmaker Safina Bousbia meets an elderly Mr Ferkioui who tells her about his lost friends. He shows her old photographs of a music class that existed in the 1940s where both Jewish and Muslim musicians performed a popular style of music in a rare display of togetherness – Chaabi. Hooked by Ferkioui’s tale, Safina spends the next two years tracking down each of the surviving members of the original Chaabi class, who are all now aged between 72 and 98 years of age, and living across Algiers, Marseille and Paris. She finds most of these ageing musicians living in squalor – their lives on hold, lost in memories of the past; some tortured by war, some by the ravages of time, others by solitude, but each with an amazing story deserving to be told.
“ Safinez Bousbia’s vibrant El Gusto offers not just music and the pleasure of reuniting long-separated friends but a novel angle on Muslim/Jewish relations.” Tribeca Review
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