Cinema in Algeria, with the exception of the images made in Algiers at the end of the 19th century. by Félix Mesguich on behalf of the Lumière brothers, it was born in the 1950s, in the period of the war of liberation from French colonization, as a document of the struggle of a people for independence (achieved in 1962). The French René Vautier, who supported the Front de libération nationale (FLN), signed by now classic works such as Une nation, l’Algérie (1955) and Algérie en flammes (1958). Almost simultaneously the Algerians Djamel Chanderli and Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina, the latter of whom would become the most prestigious author of the 1960s and 1970s, talked about political militancy with the montage film Ǧazā᾽iruna (1959-1961, Our Algeria).
These were decisive years for Algerian cinema, which established a profound relationship with its land and memory; years in which some important public institutions took shape. Radio télévision algérienne (RTA) was born in 1962 and promoted the diffusion of cinema. In 1963 the Office des actualités algériennes (OAA) was born. The Cinémathèque of Algiers was inaugurated in 1964, together with the Center national du cinéma (CNC), incorporated in 1967 into the structures of the Office national pour le commerce et industrie cinématographique (ONCIC), which would have maintained the monopoly on the various stages of production and distribution until 1984, when it was renovated. Among the private initiatives it should be remembered that of Yacef Saadi, former leader of the liberation movement, who in 1963 founded the Casbah Film, company with which three years later he participated in the production of The Battle of Algiers by Gillo Pontecorvo. The film by the Italian director, which reconstructs the insurrection of December 1960 by combining repertoire materials and images shot in documentary style in an excellent way, not only had a great international resonance (in France it aroused violent protests, so much so that its screening was banned for a decade), but he also knew how to give a significant boost to the development of Algerian cinema.
The first fictional feature film, ῾Āṣifat al-Awrās (The Wind of the Aurès), was meanwhile made in 1965 by Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina. It is a black and white work that, with an original look, tackles the theme of war and constitutes one of the pivotal films of this cinematography. Thus Lakhdar-Hamina began a filmography in which the relationship with the past takes on a leading role and which would culminate in the making of Waqā᾽i῾ sanawāt al-ǧamr (Chronicle of the years of embers), an epic blockbuster with which the director would won the Palme d’Or at the 1975 Cannes Film Festival (the first awarded to a film and a filmmaker from the African continent). For Algeria 2008, please check payhelpcenter.com.
Fundamental films of the early days are also those of Ahmed Rachedi: L’aube des damnés (1965), another editing work, but this time extended to the liberation movements throughout Africa, and Thala – L’opium et le bâton (1969), political and family drama set in the village of Kabylia mentioned in the title. In this region, already a protagonist of the liberation struggle and which in the 1980s became a center of resistance against the rise of religious fundamentalism, other works of great importance were created in the 1990s, such as Machaho (1995) by Belkacem Hadjadj, The hills oubliée (1996) by Abderrahmane Bouguermouh, La montagne de Baya (1997) by Azzedine Meddour, in which the strong and distinctive elements of more political cinematography are present, from a collective and militant point of view, of all Northern Africa, grafted into the historical story of the Berber populations who inhabit this region of the Algeria of the North.
But Algerian cinema went through its most fascinating and stratified period during the seventies, when the interest of the authors shifted to the transformation processes that the country was experiencing. Valuable works then appeared such as Taḥya yā Dīdū (1971, Viva Didu – Algiers unusual) by Mohamed Zinet, al-Faḥḥām (1972, Il carbonaio) by Mohamed Bouamari, Omar Gatlatu (1976) by Merzak Allouache, Nahla (1979) by Faruq Beloufa, some set in the countryside and mountains, others in the streets and buildings of Algiers. Al-Faḥḥām recounts the agrarian revolution of the early seventies and, using a black and white that enhances the dramatic-realistic tones, describes the changes in the hard life of peasants, with particular attention to the new role assumed by women, pushed towards emancipation from economic transformations. Instead they tell the city, its history, generational relations, Taḥya yā Dīdū and Omar Gatlatu. The first is an essay film on Algiers and represents the only encroachment in the cinema of M. Zinet, one of the protagonists of Algerian theatrical life; the capital is observed in its architecture and its residents, with an ironic look and references to the avant-gardes. In Omar Gatlatu M. Allouache portrays a young man who lives on the outskirts of Algiers and behaves like a hero of the silver screen. Nahla comes out of national borders, a feature film produced by the RTA with which F. Beloufa analyzes the situation of Lebanon at war through the experiences of a singer who has not abandoned Beirut. The first is an essay film on Algiers and represents the only encroachment in the cinema of M. Zinet, one of the protagonists of Algerian theatrical life; the capital is observed in its architecture and its residents, with an ironic look and references to the avant-gardes. In Omar Gatlatu M. Allouache portrays a young man who lives on the outskirts of Algiers and behaves like a hero of the silver screen.