Discreet Violence


On the occasion of the finissage of the exhibition Discreet Violence: French Camps in Colonized Algeria, curated by Samia Henni, the screening of film excerpts from Algérie en flamme by René Vautier (1958), Au delà des fusils by S.C.A. (1960), La voie by Mohamed Slim Riad (1968), and J’ai huit ans by Yann le Masson and Olga-Baïda Poliakoff (1961), annotated by Brigitta Kuster in conversation with Yasmina Dekkar, took place at Archive Kabinett.

The question of (administrative) detention, population concentration and surveillance are of great significance for the visual and cinematographic archive of counterrevolutionary practices during the Algerian Revolution. Those spatial politics and their related visual languages have by no means lost their topicality to date.

Yasmina Dekkar is a researcher and cultural theorist based in Berlin and London. As a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths College, London she attempts to reconstruct the complex political agencies exercised by cinema in Algeria focusing on the ciné-political role played by the Algiers Cinémathèque in the 1960s and 1970s.

Brigitta Kuster is a Berlin based artist and cultural producer, currently junior professor for film and gender studies at Humboldt University zu Berlin. She was co-curating the film series ‘Ohne Genehmigung und sofort!’ (2012) by Madeleine Bernstorff and Sebastian Bodirsky on and around the cinéma militant of René Vautier.

Film synopses by BK

Au delà des fusils (1960, 34 min., France) is a propaganda movie shot by the Service cinématographique des armées (S.C.A.). The film explains among others things the strategy of the ‘camps de regroupement’ (regroupment camps).

Algérie en flamme (1958, 23 min., FLN/ALN, East Berlin) was shot during the Algerian Revolution in the end of 1956 and during 1957 in the maquis of the ALN, that is, in the underground. Edited with support from DEFA by René Vautier in Berlin, the film circulated throughout the world – except in France, where the first screening took place in 1968 at the squatted Sorbonne.

J’ai huit ans (1961, 12 min., Comité Maurice Audin, France)
Frontal portraits of Algerian children. Gun fire. Children’s drawings and collages, in the rhythm of shattered, fragmentary reports. ‘Ils ont venu les soldats de France. Ils ont nous dit: il y en a les djounoud qui ont venus ici. Nous avons leur dit non. Ils ont attrapé trois hommes et mon grand-père, il est vieux. Ils ont tué les trois homme on mon grand-père. Après ils ont partis, pour manger, à midi.’ J’ai huit ans (I am eight years old) was shot in a refugee camp in Tunisia. It was not until 1974 that the film censored in France received a visa.

La voie / Al-tariq (1968, 105 min., Algeria – excerpt) is about the ‘camps d’hébergement’, internment camps that spread during the last years of the war before Algerian independence.
Mohamed Slim Riad: ‘It was my intention to produce a document.’