The Angoulême Francophone Film Festival shines its spotlight on Algerian cinema

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Algeria, poor relation of the Maghrebian seventh art? Although the country can boast of being the only one, on the African continent, to have won a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with Chronicle of the years of embers by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina in 1975, his productions are much less celebrated today than those of Morocco or Tunisia. A lack of exposure that the 14 intends to repaire edition of the Angoulême Francophone Film Festival, this year putting Algeria in the spotlight.

“Even if relations remain complicated between our two countries and the wounds are enormous, cinema can help overcome all of this”, explains the producer Dominique Besnehard, co-creator with Marie-France Brière of the event which will be held from August 24 to 29. A tribute was planned for the 2020 edition, but could not take place due to the health crisis.

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In addition to the competition and other carte blanche, a selection of fifteen Algerian films has been produced in partnership with the Institut du monde arabe (IMA) in Paris. “This sample covers a large part of the themes that cross Algerian society as well as all periods, from heritage films to productions of the 2000s, from short films to feature films”, details the head of the cinema department at the IMA, Layane Chawaf. And to remember that “The young generations of Algerian and Algerian filmmakers are well represented in international festivals”.

Awards

Like Mounia Meddour, the director of Picture (2019). Presented at Cannes in 2019 in the section “Un certain regard”, the Franco-Algerian production had obtained two césars in 2020, that of the best first film and that of the best female hope for its principal interpreter, Lyna Khoudri. He also won the Golden Fifog in June at the 16e edition of the Geneva International Oriental Film Festival.

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In addition to the 1975 Palme d’Or, rarely shown, will be screened in Angoulême Nahla or the city that sinks, by Farouk Beloufa (1979), a copy of which was loaned by the Cinémathèque d’Alger. We follow the story of a reporter sent to Lebanon to cover the events foreshadowing the civil war.

Three premieres will be on the program, including the documentary Their Algeria by Lina Soualem and the drama Honey cigar, by Kamir Aïnouz. Two achievements of Merzak Allouache – who had been a great public success in France thanks to Pet (2003) with Gad Elmaleh – will also be screened Omar Gatlato (1977) and Family (2021).

Note also the projection of L’Oranais by and with Lyes Salem. The actor and director, who studied at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art in Paris, is also the godfather of the selection. The man already has a history with Angoulême: in 2008, for the very first edition of the Francophone Film Festival, he won the Valois d’or for his feature film Masquerades.

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