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Cullman Center Institute for Teachers: Anatomy of a Film: The Battle of Algiers


 SHIMON DOTAN, Instructor

This seminar, helpful for global history teachers as well as any teacher who uses film in the classroom, looks closely at one of the most influential political films in history. The Battle of Algiers (1966), by Gillo Pontecorvo, recreates the Algerian struggle for independence from the French in the 1950s. Children shoot soldiers at point-blank range, women plant bombs in cafés, and French soldiers resort to torture to break the will of the insurgents. The film is a case study in modern warfare, with its terrorist attacks and the brutal techniques used to combat them. Pontecorvo’s film has astonishing relevance today. The class will explore how the film is constructed politically, aesthetically, and ethically.

Shimon Dotan is a film director and screenwriter whose films include Hot House, The Smile of the Lamb, and You Can Thank Me Later. He has won the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, the Silver Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival, and two Israeli Academy Awards, among others. Dotan is a professor at New York University and The New School University, where he teaches Political Cinema and Film Directing, respectively. At the Cullman Center, he is working on a script for a feature film about Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism.