“WOKE: Season One”— A Muslim in France

“Woke: Season One”

A Muslim in France

Amos Lassen

In Season One of “Woke” we meet Hicham (Mehdi Meskar)  who has run away from home to look for Thibaut (Eric Pucheu), a young guy who tried to kiss him years earlier. Thibaut is one of the activists who work at the ‘Point G’ LGBT Center in Lyon. Even though he is apprehensive at first, Hicham is soon drawn into a new world. As he begins a journey toward discovering his own identity, he starts to learn that Thibaut isn’t exactly who he appears to be. “Woke” is a story about the struggles of a Muslim young man in France as he searches for sexual awareness and his self-chosen subjectivity beyond gender, religious, political labels.

Hicham Alaoui, 22, suddenly decides to run away to from home and go to Lyon, France and leave behind his family who has no idea about his sexuality. In fact the only gay person he knows is Thibaut Giaccherini, a 28 years old  activist for LGBT rights.  As Hicham searches for intimate, political and sexual identity, he finds a reference in Thibaut. Hicham admires his fights and is fascinated by his commitment. He wants the strength and self-assertion that Thibaut has but as he gets to know him better, Hicham more and more sees his flaws and contradictions. For Hicham to  find who he is, he will have to find his own path .

Thibaut is in full battle with a local politician and this fascinates Hicham. Thibaut can lift his head against the injustices of the world, and Hicham is so impressed that he joins the G-spot, the militant gay association of which Thibaut is a part. Then opens a new world for Hachim and it is a world filled with contradictions, inspirations and more or less fragile people who try their best to face life.

Cut in ten-minute episodes, the series follows Hicham who will have to learn, little by little, to detach himself from Thibaut and take the reins of his own life. Hicham is vulnerable and soft and he and Thibaut carry the series and one can only attach themselves to their characters without too much bruises to the soul and the body.

The episodes are about homophobic attacks, inappropriate comments and loneliness, the malaise of youth, the problem of being part of a political ideology of which we do not necessarily share. There are 10parts to the web series consisting of 10-minutes episodes. Despite the light-hearted approach, contradictions and power struggles along the episodes, the dialogues are salty and filled with great one-liners and reflections, “Activism is like trying to empty the ocean with a teaspoon (but even so…)”. The whole 10-part story is less. Than  100 minutes long and as a serial it can be more focused on Hachim’s self-awakening journey, which is reflected in the titles of the episodes like “Running Away” / “Gathering Together” /  “Kissing Each Other” / “Emancipating”, etc.

“Woke” looks at LGBT activism, self-discovery, freedom and much more. Mehdi Meskar gives a very subtle and touching performance as Hicham Alaoui and we can’t help but  fall in love with the city of Lyon.

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