Starting off the month strong with one of the most famous, heaviest, and far-reaching Algerian movies – 1966’s The Battle of Algiers. Released only four years after the end of Algeria’s war for independence, this joint Italian-Algerian movie cast almost entirely unknown Algerian actors, many of who had actually fought the French as revolutionaries.
France banned the movie immediately on its release, and the movie remains controversial there today. And yet, it’s not a one-sided piece of propaganda – the scene of the female bombers (based off the 1956 Milk Bar bombing) individualizes the French civilians that are about to become victims – people as real as the Algerian protagonists – and makes the scene as tense and gut-wrenching as reality.
The movie slowly builds with protests and reprisals leading into shootings, bombings, torture, military invasions, and revolution. The portrayal of guerrilla warfare among a civilian population is so realistic that it has been screened both by revolutionary groups like the IRA and Black Panthers, as well as by the Pentagon on the eve of the Iraq War.