1942, in German-occupied Paris. Younes (Tahar Rahim, A Prophet), a young unemployed Algerian, earns his living as a black marketeer. Arrested by the French police but given a chance to avoid jail, Younes agrees to spy on the Paris Mosque. The police suspects the Mosque authorities, among which its rector Ben Ghabrit (Michael Lonsdale), of aiding Muslim Resistance agents, as well as helping North African Jews, by giving them false certificates. At the Mosque, Younes meets the Algerian singer Salim Halali (Lubna Azabal), and is moved by Salim’s beautiful voice and strong personality. A deep friendship develops, and soon after Younes discovers that Salim is Jewish. In spite of the risks it entails, Younes stops collaborating with the police, and gradually develops from being a politically ignorant immigrant worker into a fully-fledged freedom fighter.
Based on real-life events, FREE MEN tells the story of the Grand Mosque of Paris, where the founder and rector, Si Kaddour Benghabrit, supported and sheltered Muslim and Jewish freedom fighters from the Nazis. As the mosque community smuggles Jews out of France and works together to forge fake credentials certifying that French Jews are actually Muslim, this thrilling and inspiring true life story provides a glimpse into history previously overlooked. The New York Times recently published an account of these stirring events at the Paris Mosque—shedding light on this story that offers a glimmer of hope toward the future and discussing the many strengths of FREE MEN’s portrayal: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/04/movies/how-a-paris-mosque-sheltered-jews-in-the-holocaust.html
Directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi (Le Grand Voyage), FREE MEN was an official selection for the Cannes International Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival.
“The French-Algerian actor has an undeniable screen presence that recalls a young Robert De Niro.” - Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter
The film’s running time is 99 minutes; it is not rated. In French; fully subtitled in English.