The Battle of Algiers (1966), an Italian-Algerian film, spoken in Arabic and French, directed by Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo and written by Franco Solinas, is generally considered one of the most important films in the history of cinema – and the quintessential anticolonial film. It depicts the battle of Algiers, a long and symbolic episode of the struggle against French colonisation in Algeria, which was carried out by the FLN (the National Front for the Liberation of Algeria).
Much has been written and said about the film and its aftermath – the Golden Lion in Venice, the Academy Awards, but also the difficulties to screen it in France, and a famous screening at the Pentagon in 2003 – but much less is known about its making, the cultural and political conditions that made the film possible, and what the film generates.
In this talk, I will first talk about the networks and interactions between Italy and Algeria at the end of the 1950s and early 1960s, the presence of Italian filmmakers during the war in the North African country and the militant solidarity that the Algerian people received, and the other films that were made on the subject besides The Battle of Algiers. Then I will demonstrate how, thanks to Pontecorvo’s film, four more Algerian-Italian films were realised, less concerns with political and militant preoccupations and more the consequence of a successful industrial model.
About the speaker
Luca Peretti is a British Academy Postdoctoral at the University of Warwick. He co-edited a volume on terrorism and cinema (in Italian, Postmedia books) and one on Pier Pasolini Pasolini (Bloomsbury Academics). His work has appeared in, among others, Senses of Cinema, The Italianist: Film Issue, Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, Historical Materialism, Comunicazioni Sociali, Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History. He is on the editorial board of Zapruder World, Cinema e Storia, L’Avventura and Storiografia. He collaborates with newspapers and magazines.