Le Grand Voyage is a 2004 film written and directed by Ismaël Ferroukhi. The film portrays the relationship between father and son as both embark on a religious pilgrimage trip by car. It was shown at the 2004 Toronto and Venice International Film Festivals. Réda (Nicolas Cazalé) is a French-Moroccan teenager due to sit for Baccalauréat. When his devout father (played by Mohamed Majd) asks Réda to accompany him on a pilgrimage to Mecca, he reluctantly agrees. However, the father insists that they travel by car. As both embark on a road trip thousands of kilometres away from southern France, the once-icy father-and-son relationship starts to thaw as both gradually come to know each other. Réda, being the young Frenchman that he is, speaks only in French to his father, who is seen speaking only Arabic for the majority of the film. Later, when necessary, the father proves that he in fact speaks impeccable French; his choice to speak only Arabic to his son is therefore purposeful. Ferroukhi is quoted, saying, “It is intentional… he wants to teach his son the language.” Of Réda he says that he, “has lost touch with everything that binds him to his language and culture.” The director uses this language barrier as a vehicle to eventually unite the two. “He tries to reconnect to him…” Along the way, the two meet several interesting characters. The son learns about Islam and why his father thought it would be preferable to make the pilgrimage by car rather than by aeroplane. The route taken by the father and son goes from Provence, France through Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan before reaching Saudi Arabia. According to the Internet Movie Database, the film was actually shot in some of these countries, namely France, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. Most scenes that were set in the Middle East were shot in Morocco. However, some scenes involving the two principal actors were actually shot in Mecca. While the Saudi Arabian government had previously permitted documentary crews to shoot in Mecca, this was the first fiction feature permitted to shoot during the Hajj. The film's director, Ismaël Ferroukhi, said that while shooting in Mecca, "no one looked at the camera; people didn't even seem to see the crew -- they're in another world."
Le Grand Voyage (Film) Trailer