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1970, the Year an Algerian Film Won the Arabs’ Only Oscar Award

posted on: Mar 6, 2018


48 years have passed since the Algerian film “Z,” the only Arab film, received an Oscar award for best foreign film and best montage.

In 1970, American actor Clint Eastwood and Claudia Cardinal, the famous Italian actress, announced Algeria’s win.

It was received by Ahmed Rashdi, on behalf of the production department of the National Organization for Algerian Cinema, which produced the film.

The film “Z”, one of the most prominent political films in the history of international cinema, was a joint French-Algerian production, dealing with the assassination of the politician Gregory Lambrax in 1963, and the uprising of youth and students condemning dictatorship and repression.

The story was an adaptation of a book by Greek novelist Vassilis Vassilikos inspired by the events of the coup which took place in Greece in the mid-sixties as the army took control of power.

It focused on the assassination of the of democratic Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in 1963, and the uprisings of youth and students angry at his assassination, denouncing dictatorship and repression.

Most of the scenes were filmed in Algeria by director Costa-Gavras in areas similar to the nature of the city of Athens.

French actors including Jean-Louis Trintignant, Yves Montand along with Greek actress Irene Papas, Algerians Hassan Hassani, Sayed Ahmed Akoumi and Alal al-Mohaib were among the actors.

The letter “Z” was chosen as the title of the film, because it represents a symbolic political connotation in the Greek language, meaning “living.”

It was used by political adversaries of the coup in Greece, as they wrote it on the walls of the Greek cities to denounce the politics of repression and the death of Lambrax.