The Hillsborough Classic Film Society is a new group that is showing classic, foreign and independent films once a month in Orange County Public Library, 137 W. Margaret Lane, Hillsborough.
At each film there is an expert speaker who sets the background for the film.
There’s also free popcorn. You can bring a folding chair, which you might find to be more comfortable than the library chairs.
The films are from the Criterion Collection, which means that they are cleaned up and remastered, and the image on the screen is even better than image the original audiences saw.
It’s free to join the Hillsborough Classic Film Society, and members take part in deciding what films will be shown.
May 26, 2019: Battle of Algiers
On May 26 the Hillsborough Classic Film Society will show The Battle of Algiers (1966, Italian). It is a shocking film about the Algerian struggle for independence. You have never seen anything quite like it.
The film recounts the last years of the French occupation. The director, Gillo Pontecorvo, hewed close to the truth; there is no simple villain here.
The film was banned for a number of years in France as being too sympathetic to the National Liberation Front (the FLN); on the other hand it has been used by militaries around the world as a demonstration of how not to counter insurgencies.
The promotional material for a U.S. Defense Department screening in 2003 included this line: “The French [had] a plan. It succeeds tactically, but fails strategically. To understand why, come to a rare showing of this film.”
There are two things about the film that you will find hard to believe. The first is that there is only one professional actor among the dozens of important players in the film. That actor, Jean Martin, portrays the French commander, Colonel Mathieu, “anti-Nazi Resistance veteran, humanist, respectful of his adversaries.” (The actor, Martin, had himself been a French paratrooper during the war in Indochina, had taken part in the Resistance during WWII, and was a scholar who published a book on Samuel Beckett, so he was well prepared for the part.)
The second is that every scene in the film was staged; nothing was taken from documentary or newsreel footage. It was in fact so hard to persuade viewers of that that it was necessary to include a declaration at the beginning of the American release of the film—missing from the Criterion restoration—which said: “NOTICE: NOT EVEN ONE FOOT OF NEWSREEL OR DOCUMENTARY FILM IS INCLUDED IN THIS PICTURE.”
Sunday, May 26, at 3 p.m. in the Orange County Public Library, Margaret Lane in Hillsborough. Admission free, and popcorn is free, too. Max Owre, the Executive Director of the UNC Public Humanities Program, will introduce the film and will lead a discussion afterwards.