Algérie en flammes (Algeria in flames) - Filmmaker René Vautier
Shot on the side of the FLN and the ALN, it is undoubtedly one of the best known films of the Algerian struggle and the most used in later documentaries (Batty, Stora, Branche...) to depict the struggle of the Algerians. Vautier filmed the life of the ALN fighters. He also shows the way the liberation movement looks after and educates the population, substituting itself for the colonial power and fighting for the Algerians.
Contre-guérilla - Filmmaker Philippe de Broca
This short film focuses on the means used by the French Army to try to (re)conquer the Algerian population through diversified propaganda, which used images (posters, photos, film...) and sound (loudspeakers, radio broadcasts). This documentary describes the methods and strategy of the "psychological warfare" with enthusiasm and optimism that ultimately proved to be illusory since the war of images was lost by the colonial power, which ended up negotiating independence with the FLN.
Die Frage (The Question) - Filmmaker Mohand Ali-Yahia
This graduation film shot in 35 mm in black and white by Algerian filmmaker Mohand Ali-Yahia, then a film student in East Berlin, is the first adaptation of Henri Alleg's famous memoir, The Question, with an appearance by the author at the end of the film. Sequences of repression meant to represent the Battle of Algiers were shot in Berlin, in the former East Germany, and may have inspired Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who had seen this little-known short film before shooting his famous eponymous 1965 feature co-produced by Algeria.
Djazaïrouna (Our Algeria) - Filmmakers Djamel Chanderli, Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, and others
This montage film was destined to enlighten the international community on the objectives of the Algerian resistance fighters. The footage shot by different filmmakers and operators (René Vautier, Djamel Chanderli...) was edited in Belgrade, in ex. Yugoslavia, because it was impossible to do so in France. Conceived as an anti-colonialist plea, advocating for the struggle for independence of the Algerians, as well as for the FLN and the ALN, it is an effective document to testify to the violence of the colonial order (i.e. the repression, the napalm-burned forests, etc.).
J’ai huit ans (I'm eight) - Filmmakers Yann Le Masson and Olga Poliakoff
This short film directed by Yann le Masson and Olga Poliakoff (the idea came from Fanon) gives voice to Algerian children, war orphans who have taken refuge in Tunisia. They express the shock of war and their sometimes traumatic experience through their drawings, which bear the marks of bombing, combat, resistance, and repression. The film was banned for over 10 years in France.
La distribution de pain (Bread delivery) - Filmmaker Cécile Decugis
Shot in Tunisia near the border with Algeria in 1957 by Cecile Decugis with French-Tunisian producer Hedy Ben Khelifa, the film was conceived to be shown at the UN to denounce the life conditions of Algerian refugees (as well as displacements caused by the war). In 2011, the director revisited her 1957 film, adding a new commentary that she reads in voice-over. Cécile Decugis, who at the time was an editor for Godard and Rohmer among others, was arrested and incarcerated in Paris while working on the editing of François Truffaut's "Tirez sur le pianiste," and served several years in the women's prison of Petite Roquette for aiding the FLN (Algerian National Liberation Front).
L’armée et le drame algérien - Filmmaker unknown
As noted by film historian Sebastien Denis, this short instructional film does not conceal the killing of soldiers. It seeks to sharpen the attention of the young recruits by showing them the mistakes to avoid, and helping them understand the stakes of counter-guerrilla warfare. This type of approach, analyzing counter-insurgency and counter-guerrilla warfare, has served as a matrix for many other conflicts opposing a great military power to a country and a people resorting to "irregular" warfare.
Les compagnies de hauts-parleurs et tracts - Filmmaker unknown
Through fictional situations, this film produced by the Service Cinéma des Armées offers an effective and humanized image of the French army, which arrests the "terrorists" (...) reconnects with the populations, and gives them jobs, opens roads, heals, teaches, builds... (c.f. Sébastien Denis)
Les Fusils de la Liberté (Guns of Freedom) - Filmmakers Djamel Chanderli, Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina
The script of this fiction with allegorical overtones was written by Serge Michel, a French journalist who joined the FLN and the GPRA in Tunis. Les fusils de la liberté (Guns of Freedom) depicts Algerian fighters carrying weapons and ammunition, moving unnoticed among the population in the south of the country. This theme of "peoples in movement" has been used in several texts and films of the FLN.
Center for Middle East Studies
Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Department of Modern Culture and Media
Black Visualities Initiative at the Cogut Institute for the Humanities
The Department of French and Francophone Studies
Magic Lantern Cinema
Centre National de la Cinématographie et de l'Audio-visuel (CNCA)