The Cannes film festival has screened a controversial film about the bloody fight for Algerian independence, amid protests that it tarnishes the French army and distorts history.
“Hors la Loi” – “Outside the Law” – deals with an issue that is still highly sensitive fifty years later.
The film charts the lives of three Algerian brothers evicted from their ancestral home to make way for a European settler. It also shows atrocities by French troops.
Security was tight in Cannes, with riot police lining up outside the Palais des Festivals.
Among more than a thousand demonstrators were
French war veterans, former settlers, and Algerians who fought for France.
Several right-wing MPs also turned out to highlight French victims.
One former “harki” fighter said:
“The film’s a disgrace for France and also for war veterans. I’d say that if they wanted to make this film they should have done so at home but not in France.”
Outside the Law’s director Rachid Bouchareb said he recognised that the colonial past between France and Algeria was still tense – but this was only cinema.
“I make movies,” he said. “Now that historians, the public and politicians… all those people want to solve this problem, well let them do so. But let’s turn the page calmly and for good.”
Outside the Law follows on from Bouchareb’s film “Days of Glory” four years ago – the story of North African soldiers who fought for France in World War 2.
The director says the adverse reactions have been excessive.
But it has already proved that the scars from the French-Algerian conflict are still visible.