A journey by van from Spain to Morocco reveals the plight of the African migrant in the social-issue drama “Return to Hansala.” Slickly made pic begins as an almost noirish mystery but settles in to offer fascinating sequences of remote Moroccan culture, suggesting fest play, potential distrib interest and niche ancillary.
Near the Strait of Gibraltar, in the city of Algeciras, harried Spaniard Martin (Jose Luis Garcia Perez) runs an undertaking business. When the bodies of numerous African migrants wash up on shore — a plot point ripped from real life — he sees a payday and agrees to assist. A scribbled phone number in the fist of one corpse leads him to Leila (Farah Hamed); it’s her little brother, whom she financed on his fateful trip. When Martin agrees to drive Leila to her remote Atlas Mountains village to return the body, it becomes a voyage of discovery for them both. Helmer Chus Gutierrez avoids an early temptation to take pic toward Martin’s money troubles; once they’re on the road, story flows. Trim tech package is marred by the extreme shakiness of d.p. Kiko de la Rica’s otherwise attractive images.