“Why do we never go to the other side?” The question from Djaber’s friend relates to the stream that they never cross, by habit, but it also posits the structure of The Days Before: in two parts guided by sparing voice-overs, the film gives a past-tense narrative of the experience of Djaber and Yamina, two untroubled high-school students from the suburbs of Algiers. The very cautious and tentative steps of the boy and the girl toward eachother is interrupted by the explosion of violence that hit the region in 1994. “People still spoke of targeted actions” remembers Djaber. The words used to describe the events or, on the contrary, the absence of words characterise not only the characters’ first romantic exchanges but also the country’s “years of lead”. By splitting his scenario in two to double viewpoints of the same moment, Karim Moussaoui fits together the intimate and the political thanks to his beautifully accurate lens. For instance, in just a few shots – a forest of dish antennas, the idyllic atmosphere of the stream – he expresses the pain of leaving a place at the very moment that childhood must also be left behind.