- Title: SPAIN/FILE: Spanish film festival showcases Algerian cinema
- Date: 12th November 2012
- Summary: CORDOBA, SPAIN (RECENT) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (French) ALGERIAN FILM CRITIC SAMIR ARDJOUM, SAYING: "There is no real policy of broadcast, distribution and production. That is to say, there are only a few films that are produced haphazardly between France and Algeria. Occasionally there are national productions but they are not sufficiently relevant to aspire to creating a unified cinema industry. There are very few cinemas in Algeria and for instance if you want to see a film, the price of the ticket you buy does not go back into the movie industry because there is no film industry."
- Embargoed: 27th November 2012 12:00
- Location: Spain
- Country: Spain
- Reuters ID: LVABDJJI3VI9B56FO1YV0SGAW4GH
- Story Text: To mark the 50th anniversary of Algeria's independence from France, the 2012 edition of the Festival of African Cinema in Spain's Cordoba dedicates a retrospective to the history of Algerian cinema.
The African Film Festival of Cordoba is held in Spain every year to bring African films and filmmakers to European audiences.
This year, the ninth edition of the festival included a special programme on Algerian cinema to mark that country's 50th anniversary of independence from France.
Algerian film critic Samir Ardjoum explained that the newly independent state supported the establishment of a national film industry. In the period immediately after independence, many films dealt with the Algerian War.
"Between '62 and '65, several organisation were set up including the first production company 'Casbah Films' run by Yacef Saadi. He co-produced 'The Battle of Algiers'. Immediately after independence the state grasped the importance and power of the film image and the state made a fundamental decision. It was imperative that there should be a film industry so that people could watch films and so that they could work on an international scale and make co-productions," Ardjoum said. "It was used as a vehicle for Algerian nationalist ideology. It was very important for the message to be carried forward so that for almost 20 years in a deliberate fashion the cinema was nationalist and based on ideology."
Director Merzouk Allouache's film 'Al Taaib' (The Repentant) was completed this year and deals with Algeria's more recent history. The film tells the story of a former jihadist who returns to his village during a national amnesty and hands over his weapon to the police in order to acquire the status of 'repentant' and reintegrate into society.
"It's a confrontation about what is not discussed, about silence. This film talks about the amnesia which afflicted Algeria after what we lived through. That is a period of extreme violence and which was followed by the passing of a law of Civil Agreement which brought an end to the violence and allowed people to return home and put an end to the whole episode. And since then we haven't talked much about that time which left its mark on a lot of people," the director said.
But currently few films from Algeria travel outside the country's borders and production has slowed significantly.
"There is no real policy of broadcast, distribution and production. That is to say, there are only a few films that are produced haphazardly between France and Algeria. Occasionally there are national productions but they are not sufficiently relevant to aspire to creating a unified cinema industry. There are very few cinemas in Algeria and for instance if you want to see a film, the price of the ticket you buy does not go back into the movie industry because there is no film industry," said film critic Samir Ardjoum.
Another recent Algerian/French film is 'Bruleurs', the story of migrants who try to cross the Mediterranean in a small boat. The main character is a young Algerian who is very enthusiastic about the idea of travelling to Europe. In Algeria people like him are called "harragas" or burners.
The film's director Farid Bentoumi said his father - who fought in the Algerian war of Independence - was disturbed when he saw the young men in 'Bruleurs' burning the Algerian ID cards he had fought for.
"I showed it to my father, he came to France in the 60s and knows about being an immigrant, he took the boat over - but not a boat like that in the film - and he worked in France. He fought for independence. He fought to win Algerian nationality. My father lives in France and is married to a French woman, but he never wanted French nationality. He could have had it, but he kept his Algerian nationality and he would apply for French residency every ten years because he didn't want a French ID card. And when in the film the young boys burn their Algerian ID cards - don't forget he fought for the right to have them - it was very hard," Bentoumi said.
Yasmina Adi's film 'Ici on noie les Algeriens', completed in 2011, is an archival documentary containing footage from Parisian television and radio archives as well as printed materials and photographs. It focuses on the events of October 17, 1961 and subsequent days, when hundreds of Algerian demonstrators in Paris were attacked by French law enforcement officers.
The African Film Festival of Cordoba took place in October.
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