138 minutes| France-Algeria-Belgium| 2010| Subtitled| Colour| D-Cinema

After effecting a change in French pension legislation with Days of Glory, his tribute to the Algerians who fought for France in WWII, director Rachid Bouchareb stoked up considerable controversy on French soil with this study of Algeria’s bloody post-war fight for independence. Some were outraged by his powerful depiction of the still-contentious Setif massacre, showing French forces killing hundreds after a protest against colonial rule. Bouchareb also caused heated debate with the parallels he draws between the Parisian operations of Algeria’s underground Front de Liberation Nationale with the French Resistance struggle against the Nazis. Shaped around a Godfather-style saga of sibling conflict.

Involving ruthless ideologue Sami Bouajila, careworn ex-soldier Roschdy Zem and apolitical rapscallion Jamel Debbouze (the very same charismatic trio from Days of Glory), Bouchareb’s film is certainly fired by the zeal of setting the record straight, yet always remains properly cognisant of the human cost of liberation. It’s an illuminating companion piece to Pontecorvo’s classic Battle of Algiers. (Notes by Trevor Johnston).

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