By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act May 29, 2012 at 5:13PM
It's been a long while since we last wrote anything about this flick...
The last bit of news on it was almost a year ago, June 2011, when it was announced that it had been picked up for international distribution by Other Angle Pictures, a Paris-based company; but my research tells me that since then, it's only been released in 4 countries, France of course, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada.
The French time travel/slavery comedy titled Case Départ, which translates as Back To Square One, opened in France last summer, and was quite a hit in that country, causing a bit of a stir outside of France, particularly here in the USA, where many didn't quite take to the idea of slavery as comedy.
I recall another French blockbuster comedy/drama which also drew criticism for its perceived lack of sensitity in its depiction of black Africans - Omar Sy's star turn in Intouchables.
As a recap... Half-brothers, Joel and Régis, have a father in common, whom they hardly know. Joel is unemployed and miserable. He feels France is a racist country, and is that the government is to blame for all his failures, because he's black, and uses that as an excuse for not actively looking for work. Régis, on the other hand, loves France, and essentially hates his black self, and blackness in general, refusing to acknowledge his African slave roots. In his words, delinquency and immigration go hand in hand. Both are soon called to the bedside of their dying father in the Antilles, when they are presented with a document that contains information on their ancestral slave heritage - a document that has been passed down through the generations. In trying to determine the value of the document, they accidentally destroy it - an act that they are punished for for by a mysterious old woman, who has been following them since their arrival in the Antilles; the punishment being to send them back in time, all the way to, of course, the Transatlantic slavery period - 1780 specifically - where and when they are sold as slaves. The two brothers then have to work together to find a way to not only escape from the plantation, but also to find a way to return to the present day.
The film stars Thomas Ngijol and Fabrice Eboué as the 2 half-brothers. The pair also wrote the screenplay. Lionel Steketee directed the film.
I don't have any confirmation of whether or not it'll ever be officially released in the USA; I'd expect a DVD/Blu-ray release at some point, but I won't hold my breath.
I only just learned that it actually screened on the web, on Mubi.com, during its My French Film Festival, in January, and it was apparently subtitled too; too bad we weren't aware of that, otherwise we certainly would've shared that info here, so you all with interest could have checked it out for yourselves.
I reached out to the production company behind the film for any info on a further release of the film, but no response yet.
In the meantime, you could always buy the DVD/Blu-ray, although you'll need one of those region-free players to play the discs; and I believe the film to be subtitled.
However, if you're impatient, you should know that the entire film has been released on YouTube; and not in 10 different pieces, but the entire 95-minute film in one player, which I embedded below. The only *issue* is that it's in French and not subtitled; so if you understand the language, you're in luck; if not, well, I say watch it anyway; I think the images should give you enough info to make sense of all that's going on. Although I haven't watched it in full yet.