Saadi Yassef, ‘Battle of Algiers’ originator and actor, dies at 93

Saadi Yassef, a revolutionary leader who fought French rule in Algeria in the 1950s and then came into motion – and starred in “The Battle of Algiers”, in Gilo Pontecorvo’s acclaimed 1966 anti-colonial struggle The film died on 10 September. in the capital Algiers. He was 93 years old.

His daughter Zafira Yasef, who confirmed the death, said she had heart problems.

Mr. Yasef Kishor became involved in opposition movements while still in power and in 1954 joined the Front de LibĂ©ration Nationale, FLN, a leading nationalist organization during the freedom struggle. The war lasted from 1954 to 1962, ending with the country’s liberation from France.

He became the organization’s military chief in Algiers in 1956, ordering bombings and other guerilla attacks, until his arrest the following year by French paratroopers in the part of the city known as the Kasbah. He was sentenced to death.

“When I was in prison, the executions were always done at dawn,” he told Scotland’s The Sunday Herald of Glasgow in 2007, “so when I saw the sun coming up from the prison bars I knew I was in another I’m going to live the day . But I was quite sure that I would be killed.”

Charles de Gaulle, who was elected President of France in 1958, eventually freed Mr. Joseph. This marked the beginning of a completely different chapter in Mr. Yasef’s life. While in prison, he wrote “Mementoes de la Bataille d’Algar” (“Memories of the Battle of Algiers”) in his account of a particularly violent three-year portion of the war.

Once Algeria became independent, the FLN, which ruled the country, sought to make a film about the freedom struggle, with Mr. Yassef leading the effort.

“At the time,” he told Le Monde in 2004, “everyone swore by Italian neorealism. So I went to Italy to find a screenwriter and director for ‘The Battle of Algiers.

With a script based on his book, he met Mr. Pontecorvo, who was said to be considering his own film about the Algerian war, which he hoped was Paul Newman from a French paratrooper. Must have become a journalist. Mr. Yassef and his supporters rejected that idea, and Mr. Pontecorvo found Mr. Yassef’s script to be propaganda, but he continued to speak. Mr. Yassef arranged to bring Mr. Pontecorvo and his screenwriter, Franco Solinas, for an extended stay in Algiers so that they could study the revolution, see the places where the fighting took place and meet the people who fought.

NS result filmFilmed in Algeria with Mr. Yassef as a producer, it premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1966 and created a sensation for its shocking realism. Some scenes, particularly of the bombings, seemed so authentic that the film was preceded by a disclaimer in its early repertoire stating that no newsreel footage was used.

“There are some sequences that look too dangerous,” director Steven Soderbergh said in a video for the Criterion Collection when it released a new version of the film in 2004. “I don’t know if you can do them now.”

Mr. Pontecorvo, Joe died in 2006, almost exclusively used non-actors, including Mr. Yasef, who played a character largely based on himself.

“Pontecorvo insisted that I appear in the film,” he told Le Monde. “I got to play in moments from movies that I’d lived in seven years ago. War, prison, torture – it was all still fresh in my memory.”

Saadi Yacef was born on January 20, 1928, in Algiers to Mohamed and Keltoum Yasef, who was a baker. His schooling was interrupted by World War II when the Allies ordered his school to be used as a barracks.

Saadi was also trained to be a baker after the war. He also played football for the Union Sportive de la Medina d’Alger, one of Algeria’s top teams, from 1952 to 1954. By then he had also been drawn into the growing anti-colonial movement.

In addition to his daughter Zafira, Mr. Yasef, who lived in Algiers, has his wife, Baya Boudzema Yasef, whom he married in 1965; four other children, Salima, Saida, Umar and Amin; and nine grandchildren.

The revolution that Mr. Yassef helped was known for its atrocities on both sides, and Mr. Pontecorvo’s film, which focused on the fighting in Algiers from 1954 to 1957, did not pan out.

“Besides Orson Welles, no one has ever imitated the form of a newsreel so imaginatively,” film critic Stuart Klavons wrote In The New York Times in 2004, “Although Wells only did the trick for the ‘March of Time’ segment of ‘Citizen Kane’, Mr. Pontecorvo maintained his illusion for 123 minutes.”

The film won the Golden Lion in Venice, the festival’s top prize, and was selected in 1967. New York Film Festival to debut. It was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Screenplay and Director.

The film has been studied over the years by terrorist groups such as the Black Panthers and the Pentagon. Mr. Yassef, who later served as a senator in the National Assembly of Algeria, immediately acknowledged that the orders issued by him resulted in many deaths, but he did not appreciate the work done for liberation and the actions of recent groups. differentiated between exporting terrorism. He had a particular disdain for suicide bombings, a tactic his resistance fighters did not employ.

“Fight gave meaning to our lives,” he said in 2007. “We weren’t in it to die.”

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