Cannes filmmakers urge France to confront the horrors of the colonial past

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The filmmakers at 2022 The Cannes Film Festival in France took part in a demonstration against the colonial past of the French government by presenting films representing the Élysée criminal activities.

This year’s festival officially kicked off on Friday with the screening of the devastating colonial past of France’s former governments in Philippe Faucon’s Algerian war film ‘Les Harkis’ and Omar Sy’s film ‘Père et soldier’, which deals France’s forced recruitment of Senegalese soldiers for its World War I war campaign.

“It is necessary to remember this history and look the truth in the eye,” said Faucon, of Algerian origin.

Director Mathieu Vadepied told AFP that we had to wonder about “France’s historical relationship with its former colonies, what do we have to say today”.

“Do we even know what we have done? Vadepied asked.

The second week of the Cannes Film Festival will see the screening of the film “Nos Frangins” (“Our Brothers”) by French director Rachid Bouchareb, who in 2006 sparked a national debate with “Indigènes” (“Days of Glory”), a film on the recruitment of North African soldiers during World War II to serve in the Free French Forces.

In his latest film, Bouchareb tells the story of Malik Oussekine.

Oussekine, who was an Algerian Muslim student in his early twenties with no criminal record, political affiliation or sympathy, was beaten to death by French police during a pro-justice anti-racism protest rally in 1986.

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French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged crimes committed by the French government, including a police massacre of Algerians in Paris in 1961 which he called “inexcusable”. However, the Macron administration has ruled out “apologizing” for the crimes.

Macron’s new choice to head the Ministry of Education, Pap Ndiaye, a black historian specializing in minorities and currently the head of the Museum of the History of Immigration in Paris, said in an interview the year last that France needed to eradicate racial injustice in society by confronting its often violent colonial past.

Ndiaye noted that “the French are very reluctant to look at the dark dimensions of their own history”.

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