This Wednesday, May 11, Disney+ is releasing Oussekine, a mini-series in four episodes telling the underside of the Malik Oussekine affair. Its creator, Antoine Chevrollier, confided in Télé Star.
Télé Star: Tell us about the genesis of the project…
Antoine Chevrollier: In the mid-1990s, the film Hatred came out with the piece The state kills, from the band Assassin. The chorus says “the state assassinates, an example Malik Oussekine“. I was 10 years old and it was the first time I heard this name. When I arrived in the capital, I dug to understand who he was. I realized that what was interesting, it was who he was before the night of December 6, 1986, who his family was and how they experienced the tragedy. What mattered to me was being with the family, in the intimate. To be with the mother who loses her child, the brothers and sisters who lose their little brother and suffer injustice…
Have you met the real protagonists of the Malik Oussekine affair?
Yes, I met all the still living protagonists of this story. For me, it was important to get in touch with the family since we were going to tell how they had gone through this ordeal, this mourning, and the legal battle that followed. I met Ben Amar, Mohamed and Sarah Oussekine and we worked together. Very concretely, I talked a lot with Sarah on the phone and I saw Ben Amar and Mohamed every Sunday afternoon. We talked for hours. They gave me the keys, moments, anecdotes, they told me who Malik was, who Aïcha was, who they were at the time. I came back to the room with a charge that was both narrative and emotional, I told the screenwriters what I had learned.
On the side of the protagonists of the political and media line, I met Georges Kiejman, Paul Bayzelon… I also met police officers of the time, who were part of the PVM and who today live incognito. I also spoke with Jacques Attali, who was François Mitterand’s main adviser at the time.
What struck you about the members of the Oussekine family?
Dignity. The dignity of these brothers and sisters is just exceptional. These are people who have suffered state, media and moral violence. They were robbed of a bereavement, a little brother, a son, and they always fought, they always fought with dignity. What emerges from this sibling, from this family, is what we wanted to show on the screen, and I hope that we succeeded.
How faithful is the script to reality?
All that is of the order of the judiciary and the police, we are in reality. It very obviously happened that way. On the family side, these are things that Ben Amar, Mohamed and Sarah Oussekine very generously shared with us. Many things are true. For example, when in the series, Malek Lamraoui whispers a prayer in front of Malik’s body, it is the exact prayer that Ben Amar pronounced in front of his brother.
Then, certain anecdotes were adapted for the screen, nourished certain scenes. For example, in episode 3, when Ben Amar goes to 20 rue Monsieur-le-Prince to see Paul Bayzelon and asks him how his brother was dressed, it’s linked to a discussion I had with Ben Amar . He told me that the last time he saw Malik, on Friday evening, he went to his house to take him to eat at his mother’s in Meudon. Malik, who had this famous jazz concert, declined, and they bickered a little bit. Ben Amar teased Malik about his tie. Malik always dressed very elegantly, in a tie, in a suit, and that made his brother laugh. He told him “Take that tie off!“So we were inspired by this real anecdote to make a moment of fiction. Afterwards, there are moments of pure fiction, but the story is irrigated by reality.
The Malik Oussekine affair has deeply marked France. Is there a pressure to bring it to the screen?
Sure. This is the first time that this story has been told, shown on screen. I had pressure vis-à-vis the family, of course. They saw the episodes before everyone else, and it was a very strong moment. They are very happy and still accompany us. Then, I felt pressure at the historical, societal level. And at the same time, we tried to be as sincere and honest as possible. These are the facts. Malik Oussekine’s death is a murder, a crime is a crime.
Each character is very strong in their own way. How did you find the actors to embody them?
Already, there were actors with whom I really wanted to work. I knew that I wanted Hiam Abbass for Aïcha Oussekine, that I wanted Slimane Dazi for Miloud Oussekine, I had moreover already worked with him on the Bureau des Légendes… I also knew that I wanted Kad Merad for Georges Kiejman. But afterwards, we did a fairly standard casting, but once I had the whole cast, we rehearsed for two months. The four episodes were rehearsed in their entirety, because I know that on the set of a series, we have to go fast, so we had to have a solid base in terms of acting, which allowed us to be fluid and to improvise on set. The strength of the incarcanation of our actors comes from a long, tedious casting, and from in-depth work with each role.
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