Over the course of the six decades since the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62), filmmakers have reacted to the history of this revolutionary period with powerful responses and insightful perspectives. This selection of films deal with the backstory and history of the Algerian War of Independence from a variety of perspectives.Read full description
The Battle of Algiers
Chronicle of the Years of Embers
Frantz Fanon: Black Skin, White Mask
Le petit soldat
October 17, 1961
The Undeclared War
Assembled from fifty hours of footage, the film focuses on twenty-eight veterans—all conscripts and of every shade of political conviction. The film’s remarkable power and universality lies in the human dimension of these veterans, as they bring the events of the past to life with searing and enlightening honesty.
Algerian novelist and filmmaker Djebar’s experimental The Zerda and the Songs of Forgetting reinterprets French colonial newsreel footage from the period 1912–42, giving voice to those who were once silenced. With The Women, a testament to the call for women’s emancipation in Algeria.
Introduce by Soraya Tlatli
“The mystery behind a series of anonymous videotapes that appear on the doorstep of a middle class Parisian family gradually turns into a metaphor about the First World’s fear of violence it has itself created and then repressed from consciousness” (Deborah Young, Variety).
The groundbreaking documentary Algeria, Year Zero, filmed just months after the end of the war, was initially censored in both Algeria and France. With two rare short films, I Am Eight Years Old, which reveals the effects of the war on refugee children, and Algeria in Flames, wartime footage from the National Liberation Army’s perspective.
While it deflates the thriller genre with all manner of narrative diversions, Le petit soldat was banned for three years in France for deflating another type of fiction: the myth of French antiterrorist heroism in general, and in particular the idea that antiterrorist groups were “above” using torture.
BAMPFA Student Committee Pick
French filmmaker Kellou accompanies her father, Malek, on his return home to the village of Mansourah, Algeria, for the first time since his childhood. Mansourah was one of thousands of communities turned into resettlement camps by the French military. With Drowning by Bullets, which reveals a story that quickly died, suppressed by the French government and a complicit press.
Inspired by the fiction/documentary blends of such socially committed British filmmakers as Alan Clarke and Ken Loach, and by the incendiary force of The Battle of Algiers, director Tasma reimagines an event that has been shamefully ignored in France’s textbooks, but whose scars still linger.
Combining archival footage, interviews with experts, and stark depictions of the Algerian revolution from The Battle of Algiers with dramatized tableaux to extend theorist Frantz Fanon’s challenge to people of all races, director Julien creates an intellectually provocative portrait of Fanon.
Blue tells a powerful story of common people living and struggling in their daily lives, while providing a valuable testimony to the complexity of the Algerian struggle for independence. “A neorealist take on the Algerian War made with nonprofessional actors is newly restored and still resonates today” (J. Hoberman, New York Times).
One of the best films on revolution ever made, Pontecorvo’s agit-prop classic concerns Algeria’s struggle for independence against its French overlords. “A masterpiece! Surely the most harrowing political epic ever” (New Yorker).
An Algerian farmer lives through drought, colonial injustice, and the dawn of independence in this astounding combination of African revolutionary fervor, Bollywood-style pulp, and Cinemascope beauty. “The most magnificent film to ever come from the Third World” (Albert Johnson).
Introduced by Soraya Tlatli