The main venue was turned into a fortress as hundred of people turned up to protest against the screening of Rachid Bouchareb’s film, Outside The Law, dealing with Algeria’s struggle for independence from France.
The security was beefed-up at the festival for the first screening of the film as protesters, called by right wing National Front party, demanded that the film be removed from competition.
The party and other political organisations are peeved with the inclusion of the movie in the festival line-up, calling it an inaccurate version of the 1945 Algerian revolt against France. Incidentally, the film, which is an Algerian entry, is a strong contender for the Cannes’ top prize --Palme d’Or tomorrow.
Paris is angry with the way the director has scripted and shot the French Government’s handling of an Algerian uprising, a day after World War II ended, that led to the massacre of thousands of people. Algeria was a French colony then. Franco-Algerian ties have always been touchy, and cinema seems to have increased the friction. Bouchareb’s film is a provocative story of the brutality of the occupying French forces in Algeria and how the troops mercilessly fired on innocent men, women and children, killing several thousand people.
Bouchareb, a French-Algerian director, said he was dismayed by what he saw as an ill-informed fuss. “I’m surprised because this film is meant to open a calm debate, not a battleground. We need to lance the abscess, we need to have a calm debate about what happened, so that we can move on ,” he said.