Synopsis by Mark Deming
French-Algerian filmmaker Tony Gatlif wrote and directed this tale of a voyage of unexpected discoveries. Zano (Romain Duris) and Naima (Lubna Azabal) are a pair of footloose bohemian lovers living in Paris who decide to pull up roots and travel to Algeria, even though they don't know the language and are unfamiliar with the cultural traditions. Zano and Naima take the scenic route, traveling from town to town along the way by train, by bus or by foot, depending on their mood and financial circumstances, and en route they encounter Leila (Leila Makhlouf) and Habib (Habib Cheik), an Algerian couple traveling to France. While amused by Zano and Naima's naiveté, Leila gives them a letter of introduction to her family, and after a long journey they eventually arrive in Algeria and are befriended by Leila's brother Said (Zouhir Gacem). With Said in tow, Zano and Naima explore the city and at once discover a land that fascinates them even as they realize just how far away from its culture they truly are. Exils was screened in competition at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.