After the Fire

France | 2023 | 96 min. | Mehdi Fikri

As an immigrant family mourns the death of one of their own at the hands of Strasbourg’s brutal police force, they decide to take on the justice system that helped to cover it up in this rousing political thriller from Mehdi Fikri.

In his debut feature, director Mehdi Fikri, previously a journalist, tells a story based on a real incident, and part of a larger French phenomenon that runs parallel to the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S. Karim, a young man of North African descent living in Strasbourg, has died suddenly after being held in police custody. While the police say that the death was the result of an epileptic fit, the bruises on Karim’s body suggest otherwise. In the aftermath, his family must decide whether to bury Karim and mourn in private, or to accept that their personal grief has a political dimension with public significance. When they decide to pursue justice on Karim’s behalf, it is his estranged older sister Malika who steps forward. She takes the photos of Karim’s bruised body at the morgue; she persuades a skillful lawyer to take on their case; she manages the media attention, all the while contending with difficult family dynamics and relationships under strain. As the case takes over her life, it threatens her business and even her marriage. Is all of this worthwhile in the uncertain pursuit of “justice for Karim” (as the protesters chant)? Perhaps, another character observes, if one considers all the “other Karims” past, present, and future.

—Justine Barda

  • Original Language Title: Avant que les flammes ne s'éteignent
  • Director: Mehdi Fikri
  • Principal Cast: Camélia Jordana, Sofiane Zermani, Sofian Khammes, Sonia Faidi, Louise Coldefy
  • Premiere Status: U.S.
  • Country: France
  • Year: 2023
  • Running Time: 96 min.
  • Producer: Michael Gentille, Bastien Daret, Arthur Goisset, Robin Robles
  • Screenplay: Mehdi Fikri
  • Cinematographers: Romain Carcanade
  • Editors: Béatrice Herminie
  • Music: Andrea Boccadoro
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: French
  • Has Subtitles: Yes
  • International Sales: BAC Film