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Rachid Bouchareb Goes “Outside the Law”

Rachid Bouchareb Goes “Outside the Law” (photo)

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“I need to wait a few years to make another movie like this,” says Rachid Bouchareb, the director of “Outside the Law.” It’s a statement that doesn’t need much explanation, though not for the reasons you might think. Roughly a thousand protesters came out of the woodwork to picket the “Outside the Law”‘s premiere at Cannes this summer, a response to the film sight unseen by French nationalists who believed Bouchareb’s portrayal of one of the nation’s darkest hours as their occupation of Algeria violently came to an end during the mid- 20th century.

Months later, through a translator, Bouchareb appeared to shrug off the protests, saying, “France has been in this sort of debate about colonization and it’s own past for many years. And that debate always sort of turns into a political one.”

So what did intimidate the director about “Outside the Law”? Having to deal with the thousands of extras required over two weeks of shooting to mount Sétif massacre of 1945, a turning point in French-Algerian relations that left 103 people dead and provided the entry point for Bouchareb’s stirring follow-up to his Oscar-nominated 2006 World War II drama “Days of Glory.”

“To prepare the movie we took more than one year,” says Bouchareb. “Fourteen months preparation with a crew, 10 months to prepare and build the sets. [“Days of Glory”], the movie before, it was easier because you had one costume, one location.”

11192010_RachidBoucharebOutsidetheLaw.jpgThe scope of the film, which involved filming in four different countries, might’ve been new to Bouchareb, but the actors involved weren’t. “Outside the Law” actually carries over three of the central cast members from Bouchareb’s last historical epic — Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila – yet they do not play the same roles, going from soldiers fighting for the French military, in spite of the discrimination they faced as Algerian enlistees, to brothers who separately work towards independence for their North African homeland.

That Bouchareb considers “Days of Glory” to be an easier shoot might sound strange, considering much of the action in “Outside the Law” takes place not in the heat of battle, but in the backrooms of the Parisian underground where Debbouze’s crafty Saïd paves the way for his more politically-motivated brothers with his investments in a cabaret and a young boxer who could be Algeria’s first champion in the ring. Meanwhile, the brothers Abdelkader (Bouajila) and Messaoud (Zem) integrate themselves into the FLN, a rebel liberation organization that resorts to violence to get their message across.

In a way, the brothers’ approach is an apt metaphor for “Outside the Law” itself, which finds its momentum as a traditionally rousing rags-to-riches crime narrative while thoroughly examining the myriad forces that determine success or failure in Algeria’s push for freedom. (Bouchareb has routinely cited Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Army of Shadows” as a reference point for its slow simmer.) However, that isn’t to say that the director agrees with that assessment.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a crime story,” says Bouchareb. “The crime, the reason behind it, is the politics. The only crime is to want to be a free man.”

Given the film’s epic scope and the tightening of film financing these days, it’s a little surprising that Bouchareb says he had no trouble pulling the production together, a byproduct of the international success of “Days of Glory,” though the ambition behind it firmly puts it in the camp of films mentioned as the kind they just don’t make anymore.

11192010_OutsidetheLaw4.jpgYet despite successfully managing the logistics of filming such large-scale scenes as a recreation of the Sétif massacre or “Outside the Law”‘s climax inside a subway station using the passing subway cars to witness public riots, Bouchareb appears to be prouder of the smaller moments, something that prompted discussion of his last film, “London River,” on more than a few occasions in the course of conversation. Still unreleased in America, the film centered on the families of victims of the London subway bombings, starring Brenda Blethyn as a mother in search of her daughter who forges a connection with a West African Muslim man (Sotigui Kouyate) who is looking for his son. (“It’s a wonderful movie,” Bouchareb says, beaming, adding that he wanted something less intense between “Days of Glory” and “Outside the Law.”)

And indeed, he will get his wish to make a smaller film for his next project, a buddy comedy between two female police officers called “Belleville’s Cop,” which will shoot in Los Angeles early next year. Co-written with “48 Hours” screenwriter Larry Gross, the film will revel in the culture clash between an Arab and American cop, something that’s been hallmark of Bouchareb’s work to date.

“My movies are kind of always the same theme,” says Bouchareb. “‘London River’ has parts of ‘Outside the Law’ and parts of ‘Days of Glory.’ ‘London River’ has the African guy go to London. In “Days of Glory,” they go from North Africa to Italy. It’s about cultures meeting. What changes is the way I change to film it.”

“Outside the Law” is now open in limited release.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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