Following the screening of Gillo Pontecorvo's The Battle of Algiers from the fifth NYFF in 1967—part of our series "50 Years of the New York Film Festival"—Film Society of Lincoln Center and Warscapes magazine presented a Q&A with actor, producer and former National Liberation Front leader Saadi Yacef, whose memoir Souvenirs de la Bataille d'Alger inspired the film.
Pontecorvo’s 1966 war film is a partly fictionalized reconstruction of occurrences during the Algerian War against French colonial occupation in North Africa. Yacef, one of the leaders of Algeria’s campaign for independence, wrote Souvenirs de la Bataille d'Alger while a political prisoner of the French occupation. As a way of boosting the morale of the National Liberation Front, Yacef constructed this memoir of a rebel commander during the titular battle, and after gaining independence and taking a seat in the newly formed and independent Algerian government, co-produced the film based on his work.
Critically acclaimed and winner of festival and academy awards, The Battle of Algiers is a treasure of 20th century filmmaking that is still incredibly poignant today. If you missed this fascinating discussion you can watch our full video below. "50 Years of the New York Film Festival" continues tonight with Eric Rohmer's My Night at Maud's from the seventh NYFF in 1969.
Photos courtesy of Warscapes magazine