NYFF5: Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers”

On Tuesday our year-by-year survey of the 50-year history of the New York Film Festival continues with Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri) from the fifth festival in 1967. The screening will be followed by a very special Q&A with actor, producer and former National Liberation Front leader Saadi Yacef, whose memoir Souvenirs de la Bataille d'Alger inspired the film, moderated by NYU professor Robert Stam, author of Flagging Patriotism: Crises of Narcissism and Anti-Americanism, and co-presented by Warscapes magazine.

Pontecorvo's masterful retelling of the bloody revolts against French occupying forces during the Algerian War of 1954-1962 feels as relevant today as it ever has. Banned by the French government until 1971, the film uses amateur actors and local crowds to such great effect that many of the scenes could easily be mistaken for documentary footage. Peter Rainer of New York Magazine notes that the film "was privately screened in August [2006] for military personnel by the Pentagon as a field guide to fighting terrorism. Former national-security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski volunteered this blurb: 'If you want to understand what’s happening right now in Iraq, I recommend The Battle of Algiers.' ... In fact, not much in the current Iraq situation is historically comparable to the late-fifties Algerian struggle for independence dramatized in The Battle of Algiers, but its anatomy of terror remains unsurpassed—and, woefully, ever fresh."

"50 Years of the New York Film Festival" will continue on Tuesday, November 15 (and every Tuesday after that) with Jean-Luc Godard’s 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (2 ou 3 choses que je sais d'elle) from the sixth edition of the festival in 1968.

Here is a list of all the films that played the fifth New York Film Festival in 1967:
The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri)
Gillo Pontecorvo, Italy/Algeria, 1965
Screened w/ What On Earth, Les Drew & Kaj Pindal, Canada

The Feverish Years (Tople godine)
Dragoslav Lazic, Yugoslavia, 1966
Screened w/ Dancing Songs, Zlatko Bourek, Yugoslavia & Lourdes, Christian Gion, France

Yesterday Girl (Abshied von gestern)
Alexander Kluge, West Germany, 1966
Screened w/ Numbers, Stefan Schabenbeck, Poland & Shadow Of The Apple, Robert Lapoujade, France

An Affair Of The Heart (Ljubavni slucaj)
Dusan Makaveyev, Yugoslavia, 1967
Screened w/ The Fly, Aleksandar Marks, Yugoslavia & Calanda, Luis Buñuel, France

Le départ
Jerzy Skolimowski, Belgium, 1967
Screened w/ Five-Minute Thriller, József Nepp, Hungary

Napoleon
Abel Gance, France, 1923-27
Piano accompaniment by Arthur Kleiner

Funnyman
John Korty, USA, 1967
Screened w/ Bach To Bach, Paul Leaf, USA

Hugs And Kisses (Puss & kram)
Jonas Cornell, Sweden, 1967
Screened w/ Balade d’Emile, Manuel Otéro, France & God Is Dog Spelled Backwards, Dan McLaughlin, USA

Young Toerless (Der junge törless)
Volker Schlöndorf, West Germany, 1966
Screened w/ People From The Neretva River, Obrad Gluscevic, Yugoslavia

Rebellion (Joi-Uchi)
Masaki Kobayashi, Japan, 1967

The Lion Hunters (La chasse au lion à l’arc)Jean Rouch, France, 1965
Screened w/ Memorandum, Donald Brittain & John Spotton, Canada, 1966

The Rise Of Louis XIV (La prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV)
Roberto Rosselini, France, 1966
Screened w/ Lumberjacks, Igor Grabovsky, U.S.S.R.

Bariera (Bariera)
Jerzy Skolimowski. Poland, 1966
Screened w/ Le Voyage, Jacques Simonet, France & See Saw Seems, Stan Vanderbeek, USA

“The London Scene” [two films]
Peter Whitehead, Great Britain, 1967
     Tonite Let’s All Make Love In London
     The Benefit Of The Doubt

Military Police (Les carabiniers)
Jean-Luc Godard, France/Italy, 1962
Screened w/ Minute Waltz, Andrzej Kaminski & Marian Marzynski, Poland & The Secret Cinema, Paul Bartel, USA

Made In U.S.A.
Jean Luc-Godard, France, 1966
Screened w/ Crazy Murder, Yoji Kuri, Japan & Cages, Miroslaw Kijowicz, Poland

Father (Apa)
Istvan Szabo, Hungary, 1966
Screened w/ Screen Test, György Kárpáti, Hungary

The Other One (L’une et l’autre)
René Allio, France, 1967
Screened w/ Ares contra atlas, Manuel Otéro, France & Lighthouse, Lucien Clergue, France

Portrait of Jason
Shirley Clarke, USA, 1967
Screened w/ Lapis, James Whitney, USA

Elvira Madigan
Bo Widerberg, Sweden, 1967
Screened w/ Calypso, Paul Glickman, USA & Minestrone With Music, Carmen D’Avino, USA

Applause
Rouben Mamoulian, USA, 1929
Screened w/ Show People, King Vidor, USA
Piano accompaniment by Arthur Kleiner

Sons And Mothers (Serdtze materi)
Mark Donskoi, U.S.S.R., 1966
Screened w/ Nadar, André Martin and Michel Boschet, France

Far From Vietnam (Loin de Vietnam) [six films]
Alain Resnais, William Klein, Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda, Claude LeLouch & Jean-Luc Godard, France, 1967
Screened w/ 12-12-42, Bernard Stone, Tom McDonough & Dick Gerendasy, USA

Special Events:
“A Tribute to Abel Gance” [nine films]
“The Social Cinema in America”

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