When director Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle Of Algiers premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1966, it was immediately hailed as a classic. Pontecorvo brought a heightened realism to the story of the resistence to the French Occupation of Algiers in the 1950s that fooled many people into thinking that some of the footage of riots, battles and violence was actually news or documentary footage instead of the meticulous recreations that they were. Despite the fact that Pontecorvo was careful not to romanticize either side of the conflict, the film would still be considered powerful enough to be banned in France for five years. Since then, the film has been studied by both governments and rebel groups for what it has to say about urban guerilla warfare.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this classic, distributor Rialto Films is bringing it back to theaters in a brand new 4K digital restoration. The film will first screen at all three major film festivals this fall – New York, Toronto and Venice – before rolling out across the country.
Saadi Yacef, whose memoir Souvenirs de la Battaile D’Alger was the starting point for Pontecorvo in creating the film, will be appearing at screenings in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. Yacef was one of the leaders of Algeria’s National Liberation Front during the country’s war of independence in the 1950s. He also served as a producer on the film. He also appeared in the cast in a major role that was based in part on himself.
Here is the press release regarding the film’s restoration and rerelease this fall. Below that is Rialto’s trailer from their previous 2004 rerelease of the film.
New York-based specialty distributor Rialto Pictures announces the return to theaters of Gillo Pontecorvo’s 1966 masterpiece THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS, this year celebrating its 50 anniversary with a stunning new 4K restoration.
The new BATTLE OF ALGIERS restoration has the distinction of being selected for all three major international film festivals this fall: Venice, New York and Toronto. ALGIERS originally premiered at Venice in 1966 and was the opening night selection of the 4th New York Film Festival in 1967.
Theatrical runs begin on October 7 at New York’s Film Forum, Landmark’s Nuart in Los Angeles and E Street Cinema in Washington, D.C., followed by a major city roll-out through the fall.
Saadi Yacef, whose memoir Souvenirs de la Battaile D’Alger formed the basis for the film, is scheduled to appear at screenings in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. One of the leaders of Algeria’s National Liberation Front during the country’s war of independence, Mr. Yacef was also a producer of BATTLE OF ALGIERS and plays a major role (a part based on himself).
THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS depicts Algeria’s uprising against the French occupation in the 1950s. Pontecorvo and cinematographer Marcello Gatti broke new ground in creating a documentary look that convinced viewers they were watching actual events unfold, though not one foot of newsreel or stock footage was used. This heightened realism, combined with the use of unknown actors and Ennio Morricone’s unforgettable pulsing score, instantly created a universally acclaimed classic, which won the Venice Film Festival’s Golden Lion and was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Foreign Film, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (by Pontecorvo and Franco Solinas).
Arguably a “how to” in organizing and implementing a revolution, ALGIERS was banned in France on first release, then embraced by radical left groups like the Black Panthers, and ironically used in training of the notorious right wing death squads in Argentina. In 2003, shortly after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it was screened by the Pentagon.
The new 4K restoration was performed by Cineteca di Bologna and Istituto Luce – Cinecittà at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in collaboration with Surf Film, Casbah Entertainment, Inc. and CultFilms.