I just learned of a new restored print of the classic film is to be released theatrically by Rialto Pictures on October 7 at New York’s Film Forum, Landmark’s Nuart in Los Angeles and E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C., followed by a major city roll-out through the fall. I’ll be attending a press screening featuring the author of Souvenirs de la bataille d’Algers – Mr. Saadi Yacef who wrote his book from a French Prision cell.
I’ll report more on the 50th Anniversary Edition once it is released on Blu-Ray. This film is still controversial and relevant in the continued War on Terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and U.S. involvement in Syria against ISIS & ISIL in Iraq.
(1966), Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo’s legendary re-telling of the struggle for Algerian independence from France, on the 50th anniversary of its release, will run at Film Forum in New York in a new 4K restoration from Friday, October 7 through Thursday, October 13. THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS is also a selection of the NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2016.
Algiers, 1957: French paratroopers inch their way through the labyrinthine byways of the Casbah to zero in on the hideout of the last rebel still free in the city. Flashback three years earlier, as the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) decides on urban warfare. Thus begin the provocations, assassinations, hair-breadth escapes, and reprisals; Algerian women — disguised as chic Europeans — depositing bombs at a sidewalk café, a teenagers’ hang-out and an Air France office; and massive, surging crowd scenes unfolding with gripping realism.
Shot in the streets of Algiers, The Battle of Algiers vividly re-creates the tumultuous uprising against the occupying French in the 1950s. As the violence escalates on both sides, the French torture prisoners for information and the Algerians resort to terrorism in their quest for independence.
Battle’s startling relevance to today’s world events motivated the Pentagon to hold a much-discussed private screening for military personnel shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. A flyer advertising the screening stated,
“How to win a battle against terrorism and lose the war of ideas. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range. Women plant bombs in cafés. Soon the entire Arab population builds to a mad fervor. Sound familiar?”
I recently wrote an article The Seige and it’s Sequel which stresses that protecting The Constitutional rights of Arab & Muslim American citizens and the War for hearts and minds of Arabs & Muslims globally is really the only victory worth pursuing. Both films share strong similarities. I hope whomever is our next commander-in-chief watches both films takes important lessons to heart. I’m a firm believer in the power of cinema to make a difference in the real world.
One of the most influential films in the history of political cinema, Battle of Algiers won the Grand Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1966, was nominated for three Academy Awards (Best Foreign Film, Best Director and Best Story and Screenplay), and was ranked as the 26 greatest film of all time in the 2012 Sight and Sound directors’ poll (it was also in the critics’ top 50), though it was long banned in France for its negative depiction of French colonialism.
THE BATTLE OF ALGIERSWith the exception of actor Jean Martin, as the French colonel brought in to quell the uprising, the cast is comprised mainly of non-professional actors who’d been involved in the Algerian struggle. Saadi Yacef, who also produced Algiers, stars as one of the leaders of the insurrection – a role he played in life as a general in the National Liberation Front. Yacef wrote the original treatment for the film – adapted from his book Souvenirs de la bataille d’Alger – in jail after he was captured by the French.
The stirring score is by Pontecorvo and the great Ennio Morricone.
Restored by Cineteca di Bologna and Istituto Luce – Cinecittà at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in collaboration with Surf Film, Casbah Entertainment Inc. and CultFilms
Approx. 121 min. | A Rialto Pictures Release
Director: Gillo Pontecorvo | Screenplay: Franco Solinas,
Cinematography: Marcello Gatti
Music: Gillo Pontecorvo & Ennio Morricone
Public Screenings (Film Forum)
DAILY (except SUN) 12:30, 2:50, 5:10, 7:30, 9:50
SUN 1:00, 3:20, 5:40, 8:00
If you are a film geek, this is truly a must-see event, but don’t just take my word for it!-
ASTONISHING! A political thriller of unmatched realism!”
– A.O. Scott, The New York Times
“PROBABLY THE MOST STIRRING REVOLUTIONARY EPIC SINCE POTEMKIN!”
– Pauline Kael
“Even today it’s easy to see why the results outraged French officials (who banned it until 1971) and astonished everyone else. No other fiction filmmaker had so accurately replayed a recent, world-shaking conflict. No one else had pursued the truth by creating a big film with so few trained performers (138 people picked off the streets, augmented by a single professional actor)…The term docudrama was not yet in wide use, and already Mr. Pontecorvo’s film overshadowed the nascent genre.”
– Stuart Klawans, The New York Times
“A MASTERPIECE! Surely the most harrowing
political epic ever!”
– Philip Gourevitch, The New Yorker
“Pontecorvo refuses to caricature the French or glamorize the Algerians: instead he sketches the way a guerrilla movement is organized and the way a colonial force sets about decimating. The urgent images and Ennio Morricone’s thunderous score spell out the underlying political sympathies.”
– Tony Rayns, Time Out (London)
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all art- Rialto Pictures