Red Soil (Rouge)

By Queline Meadows, March 19, 2021
One woman fighting for a better environment.

Movie poster for Red Soil/Rouge

Blog posting written by Queline Meadows, Culture and Communication with minors in French and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies, ’23, FLEFF Intern, Buffalo, New York.

Red Soil is about one woman fighting for a better environment.

The film, originally titled Rouge, is a Franco-Belgian eco-thriller that is part of this year’s FLEFF program.

Its story is about Nour (Zita Hanrot), a nurse who has been hired at a chemical plant where her father (Sami Bouajila) works. After meeting an independent journalist (Céline Sallette), she begins to uncover the poor waste management practices that have been making the workers sick.

The titular red soil refers to the physical evidence of the plant’s waste.

While the film is fictional, it’s based on a true story: that of the Gardanne Power Station, which discharged its toxic waste into the Mediterranean for years, creating red mud.

Director Farid Bentoumi was struck by this image and decided to use it as inspiration for his own film.

The main cast is made up of two César winners (Hanrot and Bouajila) and one César nominee (Sallette). Bouajila has worked with Bentoumi before on his 2015 film Good Luck Algeria

Red Soil was also part of the official selection at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival.

The film has been receiving considerable buzz, with reviews praising it for its relevance and its exploration of pollution through family relationships.

It has been described as “arresting” and “intensely personal.”

Hanrot and Bouajila have both been applauded for their strong performances. Their father-daughter relationship is the true heart of the film and provides an avenue to explore environmental issues on a smaller scale. 

Bentoumi says that he does not have an ideal solution for the debates surrounding pollution.

His film does not give clear answers. Instead, it creates a space for discussion.

Red Soil will show during the third week of FLEFF on Eventive. To join the discussion, be sure to register for the Zoom talkback taking place Saturday, April 10 at 7 pm.