Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE DEBATE

France's Topsy-Turvy Election: Uncertain outcome as insurgents blow away old guard (part 1)

Read more

THE DEBATE

France's Topsy-Turvy Election: Uncertain outcome as insurgents blow away old guard (part 2)

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Amnesty chief urges France to 'stay true to its values'

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'Certain Women', 'Rock’n Roll' and 'A Wedding'

Read more

FOCUS

#BringBackOurInternet: English-speaking Cameroon hit by digital blackout

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Preaching coexistence: Avant-garde mosque opens in Lebanon's Druze heartland

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Prison guards turn guns on prisoners in Chile, and thousands of migrants stuck in smoky warehouses in Serbia

Read more

FACE-OFF

French presidential race: Le Pen makes groundbreaking visit to Lebanon

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

93 candles for Robert Mugabe

Read more

Culture

Algerian independence film reopens French war wounds

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-05-22

France’s post-colonial war in Algeria left such a bitter legacy that remarkably few films have been made on the subject. In a rare foray, "Outside of the Law" by Rachid Bouchareb, has drawn angry accusations of "falsifying history".

Riot police were mobilised Friday to the glitzy Cannes waterfront after a film dealing with France’s war in Algeria drew crowds of angry demonstrators.

“Outside of the Law”, which explores this painful chapter of France’s post-war history, has led to claims by some French groups that director Rachid Bouchareb “falsified history”.
 
Outside of the Law - Trailer
Bouchareb also directed the 2006 film “Days of Glory” (Indigènes), which deals with the (often shameful) treatment of Algerian soldiers fighting for France during the Second World War. The film prompted then-president Jacques Chirac to order that such soldiers get the same pensions as French ones.
 
“Outside of the Law”, part-financed by France, tells the story of Algerian brothers who are driven from their home as children by colonialists and grow up to fight in mainland France for the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN).

The film has provoked huge controversy particularly because of its opening scene, which depicts a massacre in the town of Setif in 1945.
 
French historians estimate that some 15,000 Algerians were killed in Setif when French troops opened fire on a pro-independence rally. Their Algerian counterparts put the figure as high as 45,000. More than 100 Europeans also died.
 
‘Compared the French to the Nazis’
 
Historian Benjamin Stora's point of view
Ahead of the festival, right-wing politicians criticised the film's treatment of France's role in Algeria during the colonial period and the war that led to independence in 1962.
  
Lawmaker Lionel Luca, of the ruling UMP party, said after watching the film on Friday that it was "a partisan, militant, pro-FLN film" which "compared the French to the (Nazi) SS and the French police to the Gestapo."
 
Police said 1,200 people joined the Cannes protest which involved the far-right National Front party, but no incidents were reported.
  
Army veterans and groups representing former colonists and "harkis" (Algerians who fought for France) joined the protest, with demonstrators waving French flags and singing the French national anthem.
  
"It is a falsification of history," said Frederic Bruno, a 62-year-old pensioner who travelled from Nice to join the rally. In Setif, "the army kept order" after Algerians killed French people, he said.
  
Hitting a raw nerve
 
Compared with the Second World War and France’s colonial wars in Indo China, very few films have been made about the Algerian independence struggle and “Outside of the Law” is one of the very few cinematic treatments of the conflict. Stories about independence fighters in mainland France are especially rare.
 
Bouchareb insisted after the screening that the controversy was not so much in his handling of history - but more in the deep-rooted French reluctance to deal with the Algerian issue objectively.
 
"The film isn't a battlefield,” he said. “The film is not there to provoke confrontation. It is there to launch a calm debate."
  
He added: "It is for sociologists or other experts to say why in France people find it difficult to journey into the past."  
 

 

Date created : 2010-05-22

COMMENT(S)