Outside the Law is released on DVD this week. It has been well received – from an Oscar nomination through to an excellent Cannes reception. It tells the story of an Algerian family that spans several decades – a family and crime drama mixed with the multinational politics of the Algerian struggle for independence.
Kamera.co.uk caught up with director Rachid Bouchareb for a flying interview to get his perspective on the development and making of the film.
Outside the Law seems to be very important to you personally. Do you have your own reflections on the history and politics portrayed?
Rachid Bouchareb: It was important to make a film that dealt with colonization in a way that could evoke the Algerian War but spoken of it from the Algerian point of view. I was able to do this by collecting actual testimonies from those who had lived through those events.
The film deals with fictional characters who are living through real events – the exploration of the relationship between brothers set within a wider historical context. Could you tell us how you developed the script to combine both the historical elements with the story of the three brothers?
Rachid Bouchareb: The three brothers in the film could be said to have partially existed, in that all the testimonies I collected formed the material on which I based my screenplay. It must be said that the Algerian War is a great subject for the cinema and the script took two years’ work. It was extremely complicated to mix political history and fiction, especially when the film needed to address important issues.
Both Outside the Law and your previous film Days of Glory have been set in the past and are epic in scope. How do you balance the timing and budget constraints with timescales that span several years in the narrative and require costumes and sets that are expensive to construct and implement?
Rachid Bouchareb: Days of Glory and Outside the Law were very expensive films that required large resources. I was able to obtain these by having a 25% co-production deal with Algeria.
You reunited many of the cast members from Days of Glory. What was it like working with the same team again?
Rachid Bouchareb: I had already decided, when shooting Days of Glory, that I would make the second historical film, Outside the Law, with the same actors. I have plans for a third film dealing with immigration and featuring the same actors in a few years’ time.