Cannes filmmakers push France to own up to colonial past
With France still refusing to apologize for its colonial past, Cannes film-makers focus on the crimes it committed during its occupation of Algeria.
French filmmakers are increasingly focusing on France's colonial past, with movies in this year's Cannes film festival showcasing movies discussing the horrors committed by France during its occupation of Algeria and Senegal.
The Algerian war of independence (1954-1962), which led to the deaths of millions of Algerians, deeply scarred the African country and was hardly discussed by France for decades.
Though France's President acknowledged crimes committed by his country, including a massacre committed by Paris police against Algerians in 1961, he has ruled out "presenting an apology" for France's colonial past, even going as far as doubting that there ever was an Algerian nation before France colonized the country.
In September last year, Macron asked for forgiveness, on behalf of his country, from the Algerian fighters, the Harkis, who fought for France during the Algerian war, announcing the adoption of a bill 'of recognition and reparation'.
France's colonial past featured in Cannes
French Director Philippe Faucon, whose film "Les Harkis" was featured at the Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of the Algerian collaborators who fought against the independence movement, only to be left behind when France withdrew from Algeria.
His movie placed the responsibility for this "criminal betrayal" on the then-president of France Charles de Gaulle. "It is necessary to recall this story and look the truth in the eyes," Algerian-born Faucon said.
France's colonial past in Senegal was also discussed in Mathieu Vadepied's "Tirailleurs", which deals with the French forced recruitment of Senegalese soldiers during World War I.
"My idea is to put things into question," Vadepied told AFP. "Question France's historical relationship with its former colonies, what do we have to say about that today, do we even know what we did?"
Another movie that will be screened during the festival is by French Director Rachid Bouchareb. "Nos Frangins" tells the story of Malik Oussekine, a 22-year-old French-Algerian student who was beaten to death by two police officers during a student protest (in which he was not involved).