Gillo Pontecorvo, director of THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, died this week. I didn't see this movie about the Algerian resistance against French occupation when it came out in 1967 (when it was banned in France), but I did see it in college, 35 years later, right in the middle of my, 'Oh, the horrors of Colonialism!' awakening and it certainly fueled the flames. If you haven't ever seen it, you should, especially since the Criterion Collection put out a boxed set last year (with commentary by Mira Nair, Spike Lee, and Julian Schnabel to name a few) AND because the themes of terrorism and resistance seem more relevant today than ever.
That said, the real reason I mentioned this movie is because last week I saw a screening of the French/Algerian production of INDIGÈNES (or DAYS OF GLORY - but just try to say the French title because the English is so cheesy) by Rachid Boucharib. This won for best actor (the four leads collectively) at Cannes and showed at Toronto this year, so it's not really new news, but it's showing at AFI on November 9th and 10th, and if you know what's good for you, you'll go see it. It's about the African soldiers - with a focus on North Africans - who fought in the French army during WWII. In addition to being incredibly well done, the aftermath of the film is perhaps even more impressive than the film itself. As a result of the film, "French President Jacques Chirac has announced that the pensions of foreign soldiers who fought in the French army are to be brought into line with those of French ones. The pensions were frozen in 1959 - "crystallised", in the official language - meaning that 80,000 veterans in 23 countries receive less than one-third of the amount given to their French counterparts." The whole BBC article.