“Breathe”: cinema to better understand each other


Guillaume Laurin and Amedamine Ouerghi in Respire

Filmmaker Onur Karaman believes that human beings are profoundly good, but that they do not speak enough to their neighbors, that they are too stubborn in his predefined opinions. It is for this reason that he made the film Respire: to open a dialogue between people. 

Respireis the story of Fouad (Amedamine Ouerghi), a 15-year-old Moroccan immigrant, and Max (Frédéric Lemay), 27, a so-called “native” Quebecer. They live in the same popular neighborhood, leading a fairly similar life, marked by frustration and the absence of a way out, both stuck in the injustice of the social disparities that afflict them. And despite their resemblance, Max and Fouad do not speak to each other… 


Frédéric Lemay in Respire (Courtesy of K-Films Amérique)

A story that draws from his life< /strong> 

Writing the screenplay was easy for Onur Karaman, he explains in an interview with Métro. The screenwriter of Turkish origin is well aware of the reality of his two protagonists. Latent racism and socio-economic disparities, he knew that, he who was ashamed to invite his more average friends to his parents' apartment and whose names were mispronounced for a large part of his life.  

Many of the elements of the film are indeed autobiographical. Like Fouad's father, in the film, the director's father was a respected professional in his country of origin, but his skills have not been recognized here in Quebec. Like Max's character, Onur worked in a call center where all that matters is sales; the kind of environment that participates in the dehumanization of its employees by seeing them only as numbers. 

Things are always tense when the two characters cross paths in Respire >. Still, a simple hello could go a long way. In a society as divided as ours, and even more so since the pandemic, the filmmaker is convinced that this simple gesture could solve many problems, before there are even more slippages.  

There it is, the message of his film. Onur Karaman wants to help mend the divide, especially since he believes that we are all much more alike than we think. 


Claudia Bouvette in Respire (Courtesy K-Films America)

Cinema for all.tes 

This reunion with our humanity that the filmmaker hopes happens through young people, our future, thanks to healthy communication, he believes. This is why it was important to the director that his film succeed in reaching young people of all origins, he who would like to show them that Quebec cinema also belongs to them.  

And do it honestly: Onur Karaman finds that including young people of so-called diversity in films and series from here often seems to be done to tick boxes in funding applications. 

“There is a complacency of the producers that I denounce. They are so unfit to take risks with different projects. Culture is not their business, it is a factory. In Quebec, we have cultural wealth, but I think we could do so much better,” he says indignantly. 

In the opinion of Amedamine Ouerghi, the young Interpreter of Fouad, the director succeeded in his mission, because Respire is the kind of film he would like to see… which doesn't happen very often. 

“Young people like me have difficulty watching TV or Quebec cinema. We don't find ourselves there. Seeing the film, I said to myself that it would do good to those around me, but also to the film industry, ”he confides to Métro

Amedamine Ouerghi says he is very grateful to Onur Karaman for offering him this role. “I am a Fouad in everyday life. I like to play soccer and chiller with my friends. Racism, social disparities, I experienced that. Finding an apartment, with my name, can be complicated… When I saw the film, I said to myself wow! It is possible for me to participate in this type of project. It's a world that is not closed to me.” 

For the rest, the actor and the director hope that the film can be seen by as many people as possible, as many Quebecers. are said to be “of stock”, than those said to be “of diversity”. It can contribute, according to the duo, to a more open, understanding and inclusive society and cinema. 

Respire, which also stars Claudia Bouvette, Mohammed Marouazi , Houda Rihani, Roger Léger, Guillaume Laurin and Marie Charlebois, opens on January 27. 

Previous Article
Next Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *