Omar Gatlato

Merzak Allouache
Algeria 1976 | 90 Min. | DigiBeta

Omar, called “Gat­la­to” because of his gen­tle­man­ly atti­tude, is a young man from one of the satel­lite towns above Bab-El-Oued. Omar works for cus­toms inves­ti­ga­tion and lives with his large family in a very small flat. He has no real goal, and he drifts aim­less­ly through each day. To pass time, he and his friends pursue their two pas­sions: Chaâbi, a pop­u­lar style of music pre­ced­ing Rai, and Rejla, a macho move­ment of men whose fol­low­ers can be rec­og­nized by a cer­tain way of walk­ing and talk­ing and a spe­cial out­look on life. One evening Omar’s cas­sette player is stolen. This loss is a dra­mat­ic turn­ing point in the every­day life of the music lover… In his first full length fea­ture movie, Merzak Allouache sketch­es a charm­ing but social­ly crit­i­cal por­trait of a young Alger­ian man from the Bab-El-Oued-quar­ter of the capital. 

Some may say that Omar and his peers are only drifters and thus mar­gin­al­ized people in the end. The truth is that they are nei­ther drifters nor mar­gin­al­ized; they are what cir­cum­stances have made them. In other words, they are young people left to their own devices after they’ve learned to be respon­si­ble for them­selves and their fam­i­lies too early in life. They are young people who aren’t pre­pared for living their lives.”