Malek Bensmail, 2017, 117 min.
With exceptional archival materials and many interviews (Algeria, France, Italy, United-States) Malek Bensmaïl’s documentary about Gillo Pontecorvo’s legendary 1965 film, The Battle of Algiers, will give us, sixty years after, a strong look back at this film halfway between history and legend.
In 1965, three years after Algeria gained its independence, Italian film-maker Gillo Pontecorvo began to shoot a film reconstituting the events of the Battle of Algiers (1956/1957). The black and white newsreel-style film caused a sensation. Effectively banned in France until 1971, the film took on mythical status in Algeria, where it was screened each year on television to commemorate the country’s independence. It was coproduced by the company of Saadi Yacef, one of the heroes of the struggle for liberation, who plays himself in Pontecorvo’s film. The shooting of the film was used as a ruse to allow the tanks of Boumediene’s army to enter the city more discreetly during the coup that overthrew President Ben Bella. In 2003, during the military operations in Iraq, the film was shown to U.S. officers as an example of a successful struggle against urban terrorism.
Event co-sponsored by the Maison Francaise, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society, and Middle East Institute, Film and Media Studies, and the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life.