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October 27 - October 30

Resistance, Revolution, Reconciliation: The Algerian War of Independence on Film

Nearly forty-five years after the Evian Accords, filmmakers are looking back to the efforts of the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and the events of the country’s long-fought war of independence. As in Vietnam, an act of war was never officially declared, which made it easy for many in France to forget its tragic consequences. Several of the films incorporate themes of accountability and reconciliation and attempt to give voice to many of the disenfranchised who gave their lives in this struggle. This series brings together three classic works produced in the wake of the conflict and three recent films which pose new questions about how the history of this war will be considered.


October 27 (Friday) 7 pm

October 17, 1961 (Nuit noire, 17 octobre 1961)

Directed by Alain Tasma
France 2005, video, color, 106 min.
With Clotilde Courau, Thierry Fortineau, Jean-Michel Portal
French with English subtitles

Alain Tasma’s docudrama captures the shocking and explosive
actions which unfolded one fateful night as Algerian protesters collided with the Parisian police. Interweaving the stories of an Algerian schoolboy, his idealistic teacher, a nervous police officer, a conflicted journalist and a committed revolutionary among many others, the film attempts to provide a panoramic overview of the chain of events which led to one of the darkest nights in modern French history. An intriguing blend of realism and melodrama, the film evokes the considerable tensions which existed in Paris as the Algerian war of independence neared its conclusion.

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October 27 (Friday) 9 pm

Caché

Directed by Michael Haneke
France/Austria/Germany/Italy 2005, 35mm, color, 117 min.
With Daniel Auteuil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Bénichou

When upper-middle-class Parisian couple Georges and Anne (Auteuil and Binoche) begin to receive a series of increasingly disturbing videotapes that depict scenes and events collected from their lives, dread soon permeates every aspect of their existence. Eventually, Georges’s personal history is revealed to be influenced by France’s political history, particularly by its colonization of Algeria and its treatment of Algerian immigrants. A thriller that also touches upon issues of class and race, Caché leaves the viewer in a state of uneasy paranoia.

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October 28 (Saturday) 7 pm

The Betrayal (La Trahison)

Directed by Philippe Faucon
France 2005, 35mm, color, 80 min.
With Vincent Martinez, Ahmed Berrhama, Cyril Troley
French and Arabic with English subtitles

Set amidst the turmoil of the war of independence, Philippe Faucon’s latest film focuses on a group of “harkis,” Algerian soldiers working with the French to defeat the efforts of the FLN freedom fighters. Led by a French lieutenant (Martinez) who is fatigued by the long, seemingly unresolvable conflict with the Algerian people, the Arab soldiers face their own moral crises as they comply with aggressive acts of interrogation and torture. The scope of the struggle is made more tangible by Faucon, who balances scenes of the lieutenant with the conflicted Arab soldiers. 

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October 28 (Saturday) 8:45 pm

The Battle of Algiers

Directed Gillo Pontecorvo
Italy/Algeria 1965, 35mm, b/w, 123 min.
With Jean Martin, Brahim Haggiag, Yacef Saadi  

Inspired stylistically by Italian neorealist cinema, Battle of Algiers uses non-actors and documentary-style footage in its dramatic account of Algeria’s National Liberation Front’s uprising against the French during the years of 1954-1957.  The film focuses on a National Liberation Front leader (Haggiag) and a French colonel (Martin), and works to represent the complexity of the conflict, showing the violence perpetrated by both sides while at the same time arousing sympathies for all the civilians harmed by the fighting.  A powerful piece of filmmaking, Battle of Algiers raises important questions about the nature of imperialism and occupation, and reminds the viewer that one man’s terrorist is another man’s revolutionary.

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October 30 (Monday) 7 pm

Le petit soldat

Directed by Jean-Luc Godard
France 1961/63, 35mm, b/w, 88 min.
With Michel Subor, Anna Karina
French with English subtitles

Godard’s second feature—shot just months after the release of his highly successful debut film, Breathless—was immediately banned in France for its razor-sharp reflection on the Algerian war in a politically divided nation. In Le petit soldat Godard utilizes the thriller format to frame the story of a confused man in a complex situation. A French agent working in Geneva during the waning era of the Franco-Algerian struggle, Bruno Forestier maintains an indifferent politics and obsessive self-examination that lead him to a romantic involvement with Algerian agent Veronica Dreyer (Anna Karina in her first role for the director). The film’s depiction of the brutality and torture used by both sides in this bloody war infuriated both the Left and the Right.

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October 30 (Monday) 8:45 pm

Muriel ou Le temps d’un retour

Directed by Alain Resnais
France/Italy 1963, 35mm, color, 116 min.
With Delphine Seyrig, Jean-Pierre Kérien, Nita Klein
French with English subtitles

In a technical tour de force, the story of Muriel emerges gradually from the nearly thousand discrete scenes Resnais weaves together with an innovative sound track. Not surprisingly, memory and its emotional undercurrents form the film’s thematic core. Hélène (Seyrig) has a gambling problem. Alphonse (Kérien), an old lover from the past, shows up with a young woman (Klein) he claims is his niece. Hélène’s stepson, Bernard, is obsessed with memories of the war in Algeria, a young girl named Muriel who was tortured to death there, and his friend Robert, who is possibly responsible for the tragedy. Cutting constantly from one character to the next, from night to day, and from location to location, Resnais sculpts a story of deep passion and humanity. His first film in color, Muriel took the International Critics’ Prize at Venice in 1963.

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