by Chaima Filali
Iconic Algerian Movies You Need to Watch
Algerian films serve as storytellers of political, historical and social movements throughout time. Colonialism, war and history films were the dominating themes of Algerian movies in the 60s, but throughout the years, a new generation of producers and filmmakers have shed light on Algeria’s political and social status. Films now address many Algerian taboos in a cinematic light, sometimes portraying the harsh realities and historical impact from the country’s past and present.
From visual interpretations of famous books to poignant war films, learn all about Algerian cinema with this selection of iconic films.
A historical drama produced by Jean Bréhat and directed by Rachid Bouchareb, the film released in 2010 instantly became a hit. Today it remains one of the greatest films that tells the story of Algeria. The plot revolves around three brothers who lost their home and later reunite in Paris. Set in 1945 during the Algerian independence, the film covers themes such as one’s love for their homeland, brotherhood, violence, justice and the complex French-Algerian relationship.
A drama and mystery film that tackles real societal issues, the film discusses violence against women in the Algerian society with a bold and strong message. Released in 2017, Kindil Al Bahr is considered to be one of the most impactful movies because of its unprecedented storyline. Directed by Damien Ounouri, the film portrays the narrative of Nfissa, a young mother who was drowned by a group of men while swimming offshore. Feelings of fear and mystery are illustrated throughout the film as other swimmers die mysteriously in the sea – the story of the main character Nfissa is an interpretation of the reality of many victims of violence.
Image : lecourrierdelatlas.com
Released in 2019, the female-driven film Papicha is one of the most talked about films in the industry, thanks to its bold plot and the taboo topics it deals with. Directed by Mounia Meddour, the story talks about the journey of a young girl, Nessma, a fashion design student who has big dreams but faces conservatism on a daily basis during the Algerian civil war. With a bold cinematic interpretation and an inspiring storyline, the movie remains one of the rare ones that addresses the fight against conservatism, the presence of strong female power and the rebellion of the youth fighting for their dreams.
Image : lebleudumiroir.fr
Based on the novel by Yasmina Khadra, this cinematic interpretation won the hearts of many Algerians. The plot follows a man’s journey through his childhood in the 30s, the loss of his family, and the tragedies of his war-torn country, but also a beautiful love story with his childhood friend. Producer Alexandre Arcady wanted to convey through this film an important moral message, on people’s connection to the land and identity and also the purity of love and the importance of taking chances before it’s too late. The masterpiece leaves you reflecting on what really matters in life.
Image : be-films.com
An Algerian drama film directed by Yasmine Chouikh, the film covers the story of an old man who meets a 60 year-old woman and helps her organize her funeral but nothing goes as planned – as the two realize that they have feelings for each other. The movie stands out among other films in Algerian cinema because of the unique plot and setting and the unconventional love story that shows that it’s never too late to fall in love.
Created by Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo and released in 1966, this renowned film recounts Algeria’s struggle during the war for independence. It follows the life of Ali La Pointe, an Algerian revolutionary fighter during the 50s, the organization of the Guerilla movement and the country’s struggle to put an end to French colonialism.
Image : criticallegalthinking.com
Released in 2002, this drama film created by Algerian female director Yamina Bachir portrays the life of Rachida, a young elementary school teacher in the mid 90s. The tale recounts her time during the Algerian civil war, starting from when she’s forced to carry a bomb to the school by terrorists. The movie is a symbol of courage as she refuses to participate in the act and overcomes her fears. It is a visual narrative of the tragic events that took place during the civil war, and the producers succeeded in representing the character of a strong, brave Algerian woman.
Based on the chronicles of Ahmed Zabana, the film portrays the revolutionary fighter during the battle of Algiers and his fight against the French authorities along with his band FLN. The film isn’t only considered historical but also a poignant portrayal of the French colonization in Algeria and Zabana’s impact on the revolution. Released in 2012, it was directed by Said Ould Khelifa and produced by Yacine Laloui. The film showcases the torture and violence the martyr faced as well as the resistance and sacrifice to his country – an amazing homage to the heros Algerians should always remember.
Directed by Rayhana Obermeyer, I Still Hide to Smoke was released in 2017 and quickly created buzz for its bold and provocative message. It tells the story of Fatima, a headstrong woman who works in a hammam in Algiers during the civil war. Stuck in a society where it’s difficult for women to express themselves, Fatima used the hammam as her refuge to light up a cigarette and share her thoughts with other women like her. The directors emphasized a feminist message on the oppressive society, encouraging women to be free to be themselves.
This plot revolves around two inseparable friends, Djaffar and Hamid, during the first years after Algeria’s independence. It follows them as they aspire for a better life before eventually being separated. The artistic piece is a commentary on the political leaders who betrayed the revolutionary ideals, with the unfortunate truth illustrated through Djaffar and Hamid’s broken journey. Released in 2014 and directed by Lyes Salem, the movie is among the most iconic Algerian cinematic masterpieces.
By Chaima Halima Filali