30th of October 2022 Screening




Franssou Prenant

France / 2022 / 75’

Franssou Prenant
A famous docking: Algiers, the White City, in a radiant light. The picture darkens with a voice-over reading of the text of the surrender of the Dey of Algiers in 1830. About the Conquest confronts us with a page of the French national novel that was too hastily turned. Franssou Prenant audaciously gathers a community of complicit voices who read a succession of archives (reports, testimonies, memoirs, historical, geographical, and urbanistic considerations) in a matter-of- fact tone. Recounting the stages of France’s colonisation of Algeria between 1830 and 1848, they outline the ideological landscape of a staggering annihilation effort. The film could just as well have been entitled About Destruction. Franssou Prenant thus constructs a memorial with a technique common to History and cinema: montage. A montage of texts: the words of Victor Hugo, Ernest Renan, Tocqueville are interwoven with those of military men, senior officials, brigadiers, without any way of distinguishing the authors. Then, a montage of images through which yesterday’s acts of violence and dispossession echo in the present: in contrast to an account of murders, the film presents a desolate desert landscape or the frank and innocent smiles of teenagers. The promises of riches offered by colonized Algeria are accompanied by shots of an opulent, Haussmann-style Parisian city centre. We are plunged into a reflection on the nature of this extraordinary violence, through a pictorial meandering into contemporary Algeria, entwined with archival extracts heard in an interplay of convergence and divergence. The piling up of texts brings to light both the ethnocentric and racist imaginary and the cold logic of economic exploitation that dictated the colonization of Algeria and its irreversible consequences, from which Algerian society still suffers today.
(Claire Lasolle)