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Accented Algerian documentary: Jean-Pierre Lledo’s ‘Trilogy of Exile’

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The history of North African countries is defined by waves of emigration to their former colonies and other countries. After its independence in 1962, Algeria experienced one of its most important exoduses, mostly towards its former coloniser, France. Rarely documented, this migration concerned pied-noirs2, Europeans, harkis3 and Algerian Jews who moved to France for safety reasons and work opportunities. Expelled from Algeria and unwelcome in France, these groups became invisible and silenced. The invisibility and silence of certain groups of people in Algeria continued well after independence. During the Algerian crisis of the 1990s and early 2000s, minority groups (Berbers) as well as dissidents to the national identity (Arabo-Muslim) became the target of Islamist rebels. As an Algerian film-maker with Berber Jewish and Spanish origins, Jean-Pierre Lledo’s work is concerned with the memory of Algeria’s multi-ethnic groups who experienced the war of independence and its aftermath. Not easily fitting the official history, his films were often subject to censorship, which meant that in the turbulent years of the 1990s, Lledo was forced to leave Algeria because of Islamist pressure. Whilst in Algeria creativity was stifled, in France Lledo could resume his work to make his ‘Trilogy in Exile’, three documentaries dealing with Algeria’s past and present which focus on its dispossessed and displaced groups of individuals (like himself). Lledo’s personal and exilic stance is a distinctive feature of his (Algerian) documentaries. Travelling through France as well as returning to Algeria to travel through it, Lledo meets with what he calls, ‘his phantoms’. Looking at his ‘Trilogy in Exile’ documentaries, which include An Algerian Dream (2003), Algerias: My Phantoms (2004) and Algeria: Unspoken Stories (2007), this article will show how his exilic position informs his documentaries’ aesthetics as well as political stance to facilitate a multi-ethnic exchange and dialogue.
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Keywords: Algerian War of Independence; Algerian civil war; Algerian documentary cinema; Jean-Pierre Lledo; accented cinema; exile; multi-ethnic Algeria

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Sheffield

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.
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