Algerian film-maker pleads freedom of speech in Cannes row

13th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

The director whose movie on the French-Algerian war sparked controversy ahead of the Cannes film festival pleaded for freedom of speech on Thursday in his first reaction to the row.

"Cinema must be able to broach all subjects," French-Algerian director Rachid Bouchareb said in a statement about his film "Outside The Law", which is in the competition for the festival's top prize, the Palme d'Or.

The film, entered as an Algerian production, has been criticised by French right-wing political figures and veterans' groups for its handling of France's role in the war which ended with Algeria's independence in 1962.

Those leading the criticisms have not seen the film and based their complaints on a summary by the government gleaned from a version of the script. Some have threatened to demonstrate at its screening in Cannes on May 21.

"Committed as I am to freedom of expression, it seems to me normal that some people disagree with my film, but I wish this disagreement were expressed in a peaceful way, in a calm debate of ideas," Bouchareb said.

"'Outside The Law' is a work of fiction," he added. "The time for a public debate will be after the screenings."

© 2010 AFP

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