The People’s War Radio Show, Episode #80: 55th Anniversary of ”The Battle of Algiers”: Anticolonialism, Revolutionary Film, and Afro-Asian Solidarity
|'Battle of Algiers' - Gillo Pontecorvo by kndynt2099 - Creative Commons|
At the height of the African Revolution of the 1960s, Italian Communist Filmmaker Gilo Pontecorvo released what is possibly his magnum opus, the greatest work of his career, The Battle of Algiers. The Battle of Algiers was shot in the streets of Algiers in a documentary style, dramatizing a key period in the Algerian independence struggle against French colonialism.
The film has much to teach us now, as the struggle against western colonialism and neo-colonialism rages around the world. It explores the role of Islam in anti-colonial resistance throughout Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas, and it shows how an out-gunned people can win against a powerful oppressor.
The Battle of Algiers film was released in September 1966, 55 years ago, and made a crucial mark on the International African Revolution, including the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense which was founded just weeks after the release of the film on October 15, 1966 in Oakland, California. The film brings to life the tactics and strategies that the Algerian people used to win their liberation from French colonial rule. For African viewers, the film displayed examples of anticolonial struggle and African unity.
To discuss this with us today, we have Professor Sohail Daulatzai . Born on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, Sohail is currently a Professor in the Department of Film and Media Studies, the Department of African American Studies, and the Program in Global Middle East Studies at UC Irvine. His research-based practice explores the afterlives of empire and utilizes scholarship, essay, short film, video, and the curatorial.
He has directed short films and videos with Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Zack de la Rocha of Rage Against the Machine and the band Algiers. Sohail has also authored and co-edited a total of five books: Born To Use Mics: Reading Nas’s Illmatic, Return of the Mecca: The Art of Islam and Hip-Hop, With Stones In Our Hands: Writings on Muslims, Racism and Empire, Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom Beyond America, and Fifty Years of The Battle of Algiers: Past as Prologue.
Prof. Daulatzai addressed a variety of topics that gave deeper context to the film such as:
- The anticolonial politics that informed the film
- Frantz Fanon's influence on the film and the Third Cinema revolutionary film movement
- National Liberation Front leader Ahmed Ben Bella
- Malcolm X and the Algerian Revolution
- Afro-Asian Solidarity and the Bandung Conference
- Hip-Hop Culture, Islam and anticolonial solidarity
The People's War radio show is produced by WBPU 96.3 FM "Black Power 96" in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is hosted by Dr. Matsemela Odom and Dexter Mlimwengu, bringing an African Internationalist perspective to the important issues of our world.