Battle of Algiers 50th

DGA celebrates Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers

November 15, 2016 A Special Projects Committee Event

On November 15, DGA members and guests gathered in the Guild’s Los Angeles Theater for a screening of Director Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers (La battaglia di Algeri). The evening was a celebration of this seminal classic film’s 50th anniversary.

One of the most influential political films in history, The Battle of Algiers vividly recreates a key year in the tumultuous Algerian struggle for independence from the occupying French in the 1950s. Shot on the streets of Algiers in documentary style, the film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. The film earned Pontecorvo Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen; and took home the Golden Lion, FIPRESCI Prize and the Award of the City of Venice at the 1966 Venice Film Festival.

Following the screening, the Guild hosted an in-depth conversation about the significance of the film with Directors Ted Braun (Darfur Now) and Mick Jackson (Denial); Author Sohail Daulatzai (Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue); and Pontecorvo’s son and collaborator, Director-Cinematographer Marco Pontecorvo (Partly Cloudy with Sunny Spells). The discussion moderated by DGA Special Projects Committee Chair Jeremy Kagan (SHOT), explored the film’s influence on each of the panelist’s careers and the film’s legacy since its release, including its use by government agencies to understand terrorist motives. The celebration also featured video tributes from Directors Michael Apted (Unlocked, 56 Up) and Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), who spoke about how groundbreaking the film was and its lasting impact on modern cinema.

In addition to The Battle of Algiers, Pontecorvo’s other directorial works include the features The Wide Blue Road, Ogro, Burn! and Kapò; the documentaries Another World Is Possible, Ritorno ad Algeri and Missione Timiriazev; and the award-winning documentary Pane e zolfo. He passed away in 2006. 

Pictures & Video

Event photos by Shane Karns - Print Courtesy of Rialto Pictures

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