International Relations, Culture and Politics
Natalya Vince - Questioning the Colonial Fracture: The Algerian War as a ‘Useful Past’ in Contemporary France and Algeria 305
Natalya Vince Questioning the Colonial Fracture: The Algerian War as a ‘Useful Past’ in Contemporary France and Algeria On 21 May 2010, under intense police surveillance and the angry shouts of protestors, Franco-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb presented his latest film, Hors-la-loi (Outside of the Law), at the Cannes film festival. Bouchareb’s previous film, Indigènes (Days of Glory, 2006), had been a largely consensual af fair, recovering the forgotten role of soldiers from France’s North African colonies in the fight to liberate Nazi-occupied Europe and reinserting them into the national historical narrative as loyal, albeit marginalized, subjects. The four main characters were collectively rewarded with the Cannes prize for best male actor and President Jacques Chirac increased the pensions of former soldiers from the colonies following a screening of the film. Pitched as a form of sequel to Indigènes, Hors-la-loi enters into a highly contentious period of history in which ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ remain a matter of virulently defended opinion: the build-up to, and the unfolding of, the Algerian War of Independence (1954–62). The film opens with a representation of the Sétif massacre of 8 May 1945. Following the liberation of Europe, Algerians in the eastern regions of Sétif and Guelma f looded the streets demanding the liberation of imprisoned nationalist Messali Hadj and the right to self-determination. The sight of forbidden nationalist f lags and pro-independence banners in this pacifist protest triggered the wrath of the French authorities. Violence broke out, and in the repression...
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