The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966, 120 mins)

The Battle of Algiers is seen to be such a realistic depiction of the urban guerrilla warfare between the French army and the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) between 1956 and 1957 that it continues to be presented with the disclaimer that no archive footage was used in its making. But this is no straightforward snapshot, and this film by Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo (1919-2006) raises important questions about how nationalist histories are written, the relationship between history and memory and the roles and representation of women. All films are in original languages with English subtitles.

The presentation and discussion of the film will be with Walid Benkhaled (Bodleian Library) and Natalya Vince (University College, Oxford), who have extensively researched the production of the film. Natalya Vince has also interviewed a number of women who participated in the actual ‘Battle of Algiers’ for her book Our Fighting Sisters: Nation, Memory and Gender in Algeria, 1954-2012 (2015), winner of the 2016 Women’s History Network Book Prize.

This event is part of the ‘Decolonisation in Motion’ film season organised by University College at the Bodleian Library, 10 October-14 November 2023

In addition to the film, there will be 30-45 minutes of presentation, discussion, and Q&A.