INNOCENCE (Lucile Hadzihalilovic, 2004)

Although it relates symbolically to reality from the get-go, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s mesmerizing debut feature, Innocence, unfolds as a dream. In a fairy-tale forest its girls’ boarding school, to which new students arrive in coffins and parents never visit, eludes definition, literalism. The French film opens with the transport of an indeterminate something that I guess […]

LE PETIT SOLDAT (Jean-Luc Godard, 1960)

French censors held back the release of Jean-Luc Godard’s Le petit soldat for three years—until after the Algerian War. It’s the love story of two young terrorists. Unbeknownst to her boyfriend, Véronique belongs to the National Liberation Front, which is dedicated to the cause of Algierian independence from colonialist France; Bruno, to the right-wing, nationalist […]

EXILES (Tony Gatlif, 2004)

Tony Gatlif, whose Latcho Drom (1993) is one of cinema’s greatest musicals, won the directorial prize at Cannes for Exils, which is equally stunning. Gatlif, a Frenchman, is of Romany and Algerian descent. Whereas the earlier film leaned on his Romany descent, Exils leans on his Algerian descent. Whereas Latcho Drom traces the historical trek […]

PERSEPOLIS (Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud, 2007)

Its title referring to Iran’s rich history by way of an ancient Persian city, Persepolis is based on a series of autobiographical graphic novels by French immigrant Marjane Satrapi, who was a child in Iran when Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s reign crumbled. Tyranny begot tyranny: the Islamic Revolution, which equally opposed Marjane’s progressive family, imprisoning […]