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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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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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