A Guide To Algeria In Five Movies

Gillo Pontecorvo
Gillo Pontecorvo | © Dzlinker/ Wikimedia Commons

At the beginning of the century, the Algerian film industry went through a premature phase due to the political status of the country. Later, the highly controversial war between Algeria and its former colonial power, France, fought from the mid-1950s until the granting of independence in 1962 sparked a remarkable increase in the movie productions at that time while the relationship between the two nations remains, to this day, the major theme of most films coming from North Africa. We look at five movies about Algeria you should put on your to-watch list.


Released in 2006, the English title of Rachid Bouchareb’s film, Indigènes, or Natives in French, is a traditional war movie. Set in the Second World War era the film tries to cover a not-so-well-known side of the war as it depicts the discriminatory treatment of soldiers from Algeria and other French colonies, who fought for the fatherland, but their contribution was hardly recognized as they are treated as second-class citizens. The film was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film while the four leading actors won the Best Actor Award at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

The Battle of Algiers

Directed by the Italian Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri) is a black-and-white drama that depicts the French suppression of the 1950s Algerian uprising for independence. Touching upon the emergence of guerrilla movements and the methods used by colonial power to suppress them, the film became a subject of sociopolitical controversy at the time of its release. In France it wasn’t screened for five years but it was later released in 1971 and, since then, it has been celebrated as an all-time classic historical movie.

Outside the Law

Released in 2010, Outside the Law was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards. The story is set in the years between 1945 and 1962, during the Algerian independence movement from France, when three Algerian brothers, as a trick of fate, find each other again in Paris after a long period of loss and distance. The film, signed by the French director Rachid Bouchareb, is a personal drama of ordinary people caught up by the tragedies of history.


In 1969 the Greek-born director, Costa-Gavras, explored in his film, Z, the assassination of the left-wing politician Grigoris Lambrakis in northern Greece and was justifiably nominated by the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and Best Picture for this memorable film. The Algerian-French production was banned in Greece during the time of its making since the country was under military rule. Today it is regarded as a political masterpiece that managed to encompass a sense of black humor, the outrage against the dictatorship and the surrealism of Greek politics.


Chronicle of the Years of Fire

Chronicle of the Years of Fire, released in 1975, is a portrayal of the effects of colonialism to common citizens of Algeria. As a strong personal story, the film explores the life and discrepancies of a farmer unveiling between the beginnings of the Second World War to the start of the Algerian Revolution. Directed by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, the movie won the Palme d’Or prize at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival and was selected as the Algerian entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 48th Academy Awards.

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