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‘Harka’ Star Adam Bessa Talks Working With Lofty Nathan & Going Method

“I think Lotfy did a great, great job,” said Adam Bessa says of U.S. director Lotfy Nathan about his newest title Harka, which is playing in competition at the Red Sea International Film Festival this week. “He comes from documentary, and I could feel in this film that it was really, really rich in terms of work and digestion we can see the arc of the character was beautiful. The fact that he’s American and is not from Tunisia, I think he had this vision, like this third eye which is very interesting, like an objective vision of the subject.” 

Bessa came in to Deadline’s Red Sea Studio to talk about Harka, which Deadline’s Anna Smith describe as a “quietly absorbing portrait of one man’s life in the wake of his father’s death.” The film sees Bessa play Ali, who hasn’t seen his family for a while but is suddenly left in charge of his two younger sisters. He sells gas on the streets without a license and either hides the money or drinks it away but is now expected to step up and take care of the family. 

“We follow this guy who smuggles gasoline and everything that happens to him and how the trap slowly closes on him,” said Bessa. “It’s a parable of someone who cannot really fit in in the world, you can relate it to a character like Taxi Driver maybe a little bit, these kind of people who try to make an effort to fit in but at some point you don’t know if that’s their mental condition, their higher sensitivity of the toughness of the world that they have to go through. But something goes wrong and they suddenly decide to abandon the ship.” 

The Tunisian-French actor spoke at length about how the project was a “special” one for him as he had never filmed in Tunisia before. “It’s a portrayal of Tunisia after 10 years after the Arab Spring.” 

Bessa decided to go method for the role to really encapsulate what being a loner felt like and spent three weeks alone in a hotel room. Then, to take things even further, he spent time with smugglers in Libya to assimilate into the role. 

Harka premiered at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, where it played in Un Certain Regard and Bessa won Best Performance.

Check out the video above. 

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