“Oussekine”, the intimate story of a “dark page in French history”

Long before George Floyd or Adama Traoré, another symbol of police violence. On the night of December 5 to 6, 1986 in Paris, Malik Oussekine, a 22-year-old French student of Algerian origin, died after being beaten up by the police. Before Our brothers of Rachid Bouchareb in selection at Cannes, Oussekinea four-episode miniseries available this Wednesday on Disney+, returns for the first time to this tragedy and the fight of the family of the deceased for justice to be done.

The intimate story, as dignified as it is moving, of a “dark page in French history, never dealt with”, according to Antoine Chevrollier, creator of this powerful fiction projected at the end of the Series Mania festival.

Paris, December 5, 1986, Malik Oussekine, a student with no history at the School of Real Estate Professions (ESPI), comes out of a jazz concert. After several weeks of protest against Alain Devaquet’s university reform project, clashes are raging between demonstrators and the police.

“The State assassinates, an example Malik Oussekine”

The platoon of aerial police officers on motorcycles has the mission of flushing out the thugs. Malik Oussekine, who nevertheless stands aside from the movement, is shadowed by these bikers. He was beaten up in the lobby of a building on rue Monsieur-le-Prince in Paris where he thought he would find refuge. He died a few hours later at the Cochin hospital of cardiac arrest caused by his injuries.

A tragic story of facies offense that Antoine Chevrollier has been thinking about since he heard, as a teenager, “Malik Oussekine’s first and last name for the first time” on a title from the album of the rap group Assassin, released on June 2, 1995. “The chorus said ‘The State assassinates, an example of Malik Oussekine’. I hear that and the name resonates strongly”, says the man to whom we owe the production of numerous episodes of the Bureau des Légendes and Black baron.

“We didn’t want to tell the story of an Arab, but that of Malik”

Antoine Chevrollier and his co-authors Faïza Guène, (author of Loves Loves Tomorrow), Julien Lilti (Hippocrates) and Cedric Ido (The good life) adopt the point of view of the family of Malik Oussekine: his mother Aïcha (Hiam Abbass), his brothers Ben Amar (Malek Lamraoui) and Mohamed (Tewfik Jallab) – surrogate father of the siblings since the death of their father Miloud ( Slimane Dazi) – and his sisters Fatna (Naidra Ayadi) and Sarah (Mouna Soualem).

“It was obvious that it was above all the story of a family. We very quickly talked about having the intimate point of view, that of his family. After all, mourning is universal,” underlines Faïza Guène. “We knew very quickly that we wanted to get out of the symbol of police blunders and get into something intimate to touch and so that the project could take on all its universality. You had to go through something tangible, emotional,” adds Julien Lilti.

“Sarah, Ben Amar and Mohamed are still alive. We met them. We had to establish a relationship of trust. During long interviews, they gave us many keys to go precisely to this place of empathy and understanding, and to feel this pain more strongly”, continues Antoine Chevrollier.

“What I think is interesting in our approach is that Malik was killed because he was Arab, that he was instrumentalized in a positive way because he was Arab. We didn’t want to tell the story of an Arab, but that of Malik,” explains Julien Lilti.

“Malik could not be the symbol of any generation of immigrants”

The series also looks back on the wave of emotion that followed the murder and on the marches that brought together thousands of people in France where they chanted “Never again”. Never again police violence, never again racism.

“But Malik couldn’t be the symbol of any generation of immigrants, because he was just Malik, just an individual. A way perhaps of saying, let’s stop bringing people back to their first visible identity, to what they seem to be, let’s try to remember that we are a sum of individualities and that it’s like that we can make a community”, analyzes the scriptwriter.

“A state mechanism when there is police violence”

Oussekine does not hide the political dimension of the drama, nor the attempts to cover up the affair, in particular those of the Minister Delegate for Security, Robert Pandraud (Olivier Gourmet)

“We describe a whole state mechanism when there is police violence. We find exactly the same mechanics in the Adama Traoré case as in the case of the yellow vests. We will systematically criminalize the victim, intimidate the family to lead to a denial of justice, supposedly to protect the State, society. In the end, we create irremediable fractures, ”deplores Julien Lilti.

“The last heartbeats of Malik Oussekine”

“We always said to ourselves that we couldn’t think of this story outside of an ethical question”, relates Faïza Guène. The scenarios are based on interviews with the lawyer Georges Kiejman (Kad Merad), Jacques Attali, Patrick Ecollan, the resuscitator of the Samu or even Paul Bayzelon (Louis Barthélémy), the only eyewitness to what happened. passed through this hall the night of December 5-6. “We met most of the protagonists still alive that we discover in fiction”, welcomes Antoine Chevrollier.

“With Georges Kiejman, it was quite simple, he wanted to tell the story. Paul Bayzelon had not spoken about the case since 1990, that is to say the trial. We felt that thirty years had passed, it was quite strong, ”explains Antoine Chevrollier. And to add, moved, that Patrick Ecollan, the resuscitator of the Samu “kept the last heartbeats of Malik Oussekine, his electrocardiogram”.

For some more distant protagonists, the affair was “a marker of political commitment, recalls Faïza Guène, citing David Dufresne, Yannick Jadot or even Mogniss H. Abdallah. For them, it was rather liberating to talk about it. »

“The goal is to heal the wounds. By telling ourselves, by looking our story in the face, we heal a little bit. By showing what happened, this unpunished state violence, this judicial injustice, I hope that we will appease certain resentments, ”concludes Antoine Chevrollier.