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Namibia Premiere of the Masterpiece of Political and Anti-Colonial Filmmaking "The Battle of Algiers" on SAT, 30 June 2012, 19h at Studio 77

As part of the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Algeria on 5. July 1962, and for the sake of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the end of the colonial war in Algeria on 18. March 1962, AfricAvenir Windhoek on Saturday 30 June 2012, at 19h presents the Namibian premiere of the film classic "The Battle of Algiers" by Gillo Pontecorvo (1965, Algeria/Italy, 121 min, French with English subtitles). The film is considered an Masterpiece of political and anti-colonial filmmakingH.E. Lahcene Kaid-Slomane, Ambassador of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, will introduce the film to the audience.

Date: 30. June 2012, Time: 19h00
Venue: Studio 77, Old Breweries Complex, entrance Garten Str.
Entrance: 30,-N$


AfricAvenir announces herewith also that its screening series at the Studio 77 will end with this film. The screening series “African Perspectives” will continue at a different venue, the Goethe-Centre Windhoek, every last Saturday of the month. We are herewith proud to announce the Namibian Premiere of “Cameroon. Autopsy of an Independence” by Valérie Osouf and Gaelle Le Roy, on 28 July 2012 which will take place in the above mentioned Goethe-Centre. 

About the film
“The Battle of Algiers” is a film commissioned by the Algerian government that shows the Algerian revolution from both sides. Director Gillo Pontecorvo’s highly dramatic film is about the organisation of a guerrilla movement and the methods used to annihilate it by the colonial power. 

“The Battle of Algiers” chronicles the harrowing events of 1957, a key year in Algeria's struggle for independence from France. The French foreign legion has left Vietnam in defeat and has something to prove. The Algerians are seeking independence.

This highly political film about the Algerian struggle for independence from France took "Best Film" honours at the 1966 Venice Film Festival. The only film in Oscar history to be a nominee in two separate non-consecutive years. It was a Best Foreign Language Film nominee for 1966, and then a nominee for screenplay and direction for 1968. 



Based in part on the memoirs of Yacef Saadi, who wrote them in prison after serving as a leader for the historical FLN, the bulk of the film is shot in flashback, presented as the memories of Ali (Brahim Haggiag), a leading member of the Algerian Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), when finally captured by the French in 1957. Three years earlier, Ali was a petty thief who joined the secretive organization in order to help rid the Casbah of vice associated with the colonial government. The film traces the rebels' struggle and the increasingly extreme measures taken by the French government to quell what soon becomes a nationwide revolt. After the flashback, Ali and the last of the FLN leaders are killed, and the film takes on a more general focus, leading to the declaration of Algerian independence in 1962.

Pontecorvo resisted any temptation to romanticize the protagonists. The atrocities committed by the French and the increasingly brutal strikes of the FLN are both portrayed. The film's essential fair-mindedness is perhaps its most striking and skillful feature. 

The film produced considerable political controversy in France and was banned there for five years. The sympathetic treatment of the FLN in The Battle of Algiers often dismayed former French colonists of Algiers (the pieds-noirs) and French army troops.

Under apartheid rule the film was banned in South Africa and Namibia, same as in Israel where the film was banned for many years. It was shown for several months at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque in 1988, shortly after the outbreak of the First Intifada and aroused considerable interest and public attention. In general, Left-wing commentators used the film to bolster their argument that attempts to subdue the Palestinians by brute force were futile and that Israel had to end its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while right-wingers asserted that Israel's situation vis-a-vis these territories, forming a territorial continuity with pre-1967 Israel, was not comparable to France and Algeria which are separated by the Mediterranean. The comparison of Israel's situation with the Algerian War continued to crop up in the Israeli political debate also after the film ceased to be shown, and remains a recurrent topic up to the present.

In 2003, the film again made news after the Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict at The Pentagon offered a screening of the film on August 27, regarding it as a useful illustration of the problems faced in Iraq. A flyer for the screening read: "How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafes. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar? The French have a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film."

According to the Defense Department official (Directorate for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict) in charge of the screening, "Showing the film offers historical insight into the conduct of French operations in Algeria, and was intended to prompt informative discussion of the challenges faced by the French."

Awards

  • International Film Festival Venice: Golden Lion and FIPRESCI-Prize (1966)
  • Nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Script and Writing (Gillo Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas), Best Director (Gillo Pontecorvo) (1969) and Best Foreign Language Film (1967)
  • City of Venice Film Prize (1966) 
  • The International Critics Award (1966) 
  • City of Imola Prize(1966)
  • Silver Ribbon, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Producer, Sindacato Nazionale Giornalisti Cinematografici Italiani (1967)
  • Ajace Prize of the Cinema d'Essai (1967) 
  • Diosa de Plata at the Acapulco Film Festival (1966);
  • Italian Golden Asphodel (1966)
  • Silver “Diosa” at Acapulco Film Festival (1966); 
  • Golden Grolla (1966) 
  • Riccione Prize (1966)
  • Best Foreign Language Film, Kinema Junpo Award (1968)
  • Voted "Best Film of 1967" by Cuban critics in a poll sponsored by Cuban magazine Cine (1967)
  • UN-Award, British Academy of Film and Television Arts/BAFTA (1972)
  • NSFC Award, 2nd Place, Best Supporting Actor, National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA (1968)
  • United Churches of America Prize for 1967
  • In 2010, the film was ranked #6 in Empire magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema"

AfricAvenir thanks its financial sponsors and kind supporters of this event: Insight Namibia, the Embassy of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, Studio 77, Bank Windhoek Arts Festival, the Franco Namibian Cultural Centre, WhatsOnWindhoek.

Inquiries: Hans-Christian Mahnke
 Cell: 085-5630949, Email: africavenir.whk(at)googlemail.com   

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