Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin
Karnaval is set against a backdrop of intolerance and hostility in the gloomy Northern French city of Dunkirk. The story is set during carnival time, when the citizens let themselves loose for six weeks of partying, carousing and having a good time. The film centers on Larbi (Ben Abdallah), an Arab youth, and his confrontation with one of the turning points of his life. After a violent argument with his father, Larbi decides to leave the family's business and go to Marseilles for a fresh start. On his last night in the town he grew up in, he sleeps in the hallway of an apartment building, where he is disturbed by Béa (Sylvie Testud) and Christian (Clovis Cornillac), a couple having fun at the carnival. Larbi is attracted to Béa and decides to stay a few more days to try his luck. In the free atmosphere of the carnival, Larbi discovers a world that he did not know existed, a world which is about to clash with his conservative outlook, and the three lives are changed forever. First time director Thomas Vincent approached the project with a realistic perspective rooted in a social context while remaining very lyrical, an approach he admired in the films of Ken Loach. Karnaval received the Alfred Bauer Prize for a debut film at the 49th Berlin International Film Festival in 1999.