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French Movie Depicts Forgotten Soldiers

http://entertainment.tv.yahoo.com/entnews/ap/20060504/114677682000.html

A handful of Allied troops stare at the barrels of advancing Nazi tanks, hurling grenades that bounce harmlessly off the vehicles' armored skin. The Germans aim squarely at the Allied hideout and fire.

These soldiers, giving their lives to defend a deserted French village, are neither French nor British, American nor Canadian. They are African and the subject of a new French movie.

"Les Enfants du Pays" ("Hometown Boys") is the story of the so-called Senegalese Infantrymen, soldiers from France's former colonies in Africa who fought often on the front lines in Europe's wars.

Though director Pierre Javaux calls the film a fable, he says he tried to stay as close to historical fact as possible.

"The characters are fictional, but, sadly, their situation was anything but," Javaux told The Associated Press.

"As the movie shows, we French routinely assigned the colonial infantrymen the most difficult and deadly missions," he said. "Basically, these guys were cannon fodder."

Formed in the 19th century to bolster France's dwindling ranks, colonial infantrymen fought in both world wars. An estimated 300,000 soldiers from French colonies in North and West Africa and Indochina fought in WWII, according to historian Benjamin Stora, author of a more than a dozen books on France's colonial experience.

In "Hometown Boys," a ragtag battalion of infantrymen on their way to the front gets lost and ends up in a bucolic French village, deserted except for a grandfather and his two grandkids.

Although only one of the soldiers speaks French, the infantrymen quickly bond with their hosts.

When the Nazi tanks roll in, an officer orders the African soldiers to hold their position. They know obedience means certain death, but they hold firm, giving their lives for an abandoned village a continent away from their homes.

"Hometown Boys" debuted not in a chic Paris movie hall, but in a village in Benin. Villagers of all ages crowded into a dusty square to watch the movie projected onto a sheet. The film is touring villages throughout West Africa, where France's treatment of the infantrymen continues to be a touchy subject.

After its African colonies gained their independence during the 1960s, France froze infantrymen's pensions. Surviving Senegalese vets' pensions are just half of their French counterparts. French authorities say the disparity reflects the difference in the cost of living; soldiers insist it is unjust and racist.

Javaux has also taken "Hometown Boys" to the depressed suburbs that ring Paris, where unemployed youth many second- and third-generation Arab and African immigrants staged weeks of riots last year.

He said the movie particularly resonated with suburban teenagers, who complain that France has yet to acknowledge the role of African troops in the country's liberation.

"There's a feeling of humiliation and resentment that grows from one generation to the next," said Javaux, adding that he saw the movie as a small step toward reconciliation.

Moviegoer Nadhera Beletreche agreed.

"It's a courageous film because it shows a part of our history we are not taught in school," said Beletreche, a 23-year-old graduate student whose grandparents came to France from Algeria.

"Hometown Boys" is part of growing re-examining France's colonial past. In 2004 59 years after V-E Day France decorated 50 African veterans with it highest award, the Legion of Honor. Shortly after, Senegal held its first ceremony honoring surviving infantrymen now in their 80s and 90s.

Though French critics have trashed "Hometown Boys," calling it sappy and unoriginal, moviegoers have responded positively.

After a recent screening, Senegalese researcher Aladgi Diop called the movie "very good and very symbolic."

"It's an attempt to rescue a bit of lost history," he said. "We welcome that even if it comes too late for many of our soldiers."
 

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wave man TDY staff
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I'd like to see this one. Looks like good work on the uniforms. The old man seems to be a veteran of the 148th Infantry Regiment.

 

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Thanks for this news GIGENE! Great pics PD! :eek Looks like another very interesting French war film. Can't wait to see this one. I hope it does get released here theatrically.

The Senegalize on the left of the Officer is carrying a Chatellerau. :D It's interestig that they carry their musette bread bags on their right and in one carries the water bottle of his left. The colors of their great coat looks more mustard shade, I guess colonial troops still used them in 1939.

Philip
 

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Never heard about it! :)
Thanks a lot guys.

There is another movie who is coming soon wich is call :"Indigènes".
The story is about a the North African soldier from the Italian campaign to the Vosges battle.

The movie will be first seen at Canne Film Festival.

http://www.indigenes-lefilm.com/

http://tadrart.com/photos/21-fr.jpg

from what I have seen the pics from Monte Cassino battle shows a lot of combat.
 

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wave man TDY staff
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WOW! Both look very good, and my local theater's been bragging in the press that they'll be doing more independent and foreign films. I'll have to harass them.
 

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Great pics ! :clap This will make the DML Cyber hobby Goumier figure more sought after! Thank you for the info PAD!

The "Les Enfants du Pays" is described as a dramtic comedy and I saw three trailers and it only features this Senegalese squad. And did not show any combat sequences. Even it's poster shows a comedic style.

While the "Indegenes" looks like a bigger budgeted war film.

Philip
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the tip about Indigènes Pad75!
I want to see that too. In fact there are a few French made war movies I would like to see. I vaguely remember one about Diem Bien Phu and another about the Franco-Prussian War.

As for France's Black African Soldiers, that is a subject Osprey should publish a book about, and would be nice to see in 1/6th too.
 

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and would be nice to see in 1/6th too
This was from the sideshow's website and I believe this was a customized figure created by CHARLES NOHAI not a prototype.





Yes Osprey has not done the Senegalese Colonial troops at all.

Philip
 

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wave man TDY staff
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I vaguely remember one about Dien Bien Phu and another about the Franco-Prussian War.
The Dien Bien Phu film might be Jump Into Hell(1955), a pretty good film as I remember (last saw it in the late-60s/early-70s)




Jaques Sernas - Capt. Guy Bertrand

That Tirailleur is excellent.
 

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wave man TDY staff
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Yeah, for some reason it's fairly obscure, Pad. I believe Irving Wallace wrote the script.
I haven't latched onto a copy of the Shoendorffer film yet, need to see if it's available in my region's format.
 

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New Article about "Days of Glory"

Here's a new article about the upcoming French movie "Days of Glory." Unless I am mistaken, I believe this is the same movie Pad mentioned:

France's African troops finally get some 'Glory'

With strong visuals and even stronger emotions, Rachid Bouchareb's "Days of Glory" makes a powerful war film about a particularly unique subject.

World War II historians tend to ignore the contributions and sacrifices made in the liberation of France by North African or "indigenous" soldiers in the French army. A tough offensive from the South and from Italy helped take the pressure off both the Allies following the Normandy landing and the Soviet army on the Eastern Front. Casualties were high among these French troops, many of whom were from France's colonies.

In his film, Bouchareb pays tribute to the heroism of these men fighting for the liberation of a mother country they had never before seen. The film should win critical praise and do solid theatrical business in all French-speaking territories and former French colonies. Elsewhere, "Days of Glory" will make a strong film for specialty venues. The film is slated for release in France in late September.

In a fairly conventional manner, Bouchareb, who wrote the script with Olivier Morelle, follows the exploits of several North Africans who enlist in the French army in 1943. Their campaign starts in Italy and continues through Provence and the Vosges before a handful of survivors fight a final battle in an Alsatian village against a German battalion.

The main focal point is Said (comic actor Jamal Debbouze ably taking on his first dramatic role), yet the other main characters get about as much screen time. Said's mother begs him not to enlist, but he is determined to fight for France.

During the campaign in the south, Messaoud (Roschdy Zem) falls in love with a French woman but is unaware officers are censoring his letters to her. Abdelkader (Sami Bouajila) chafes at the Muslim's second-class citizenship in the French army when it comes to promotions and leaves. Levelheaded Yassir (Samy Naceri) agrees in principle but displays loyalty and bravery under fire. Their sergeant, Martinez (Bernard Blancan), is constantly torn between devotion to his troops and his own mixed feelings about North Africans.

"Days of Glory" makes no departures from previous war films, but the tensions between the French commanders and the indigenous troops -- and the conflicts among themselves over how best to respond to provocations -- gives the film its dramatic punch.

One thing you wish Bouchareb might have included is a scene or even a line in which one of his North African characters would explain this loyalty to a country that does not always return that loyalty.

Scenes of combat, especially the final battle in a tiny village, are well staged and shot. It is somewhat distracting though for Debbouze, who lost the use of his right arm in a childhood accident, to go through an entire war with his right hand in his pocket.

Final credits make note of the shameful fact that with the decolonization of Africa, the French government froze the pensions of ex-servicemen from its former colonies. To this day the issue remains unresolved.

Cast:

Said: Jamel Debbouze

Yassir: Samy Naceri

Messaoud: Roschdy Zem

Abdelkader: Sami Bouajila

Martinez: Bernard Blancan

Director: Rachid Bouchareb; Screenwriters: Olivier Morelle, Rachid Bouchareb; Associate producer: Jean Brehat; Co-producer: Jamel Debbouze; Executive produer: Muriel Merlin; Director of photography: Patrick Blossier; Production designer: Dominique Douret; Music: Armand Amar, Khaled; Costumes: Michele Richer; Editor: Yannick Kergoat.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter
 

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New Article

WWII filmmakers press for French policy change

Tue Sep 19, 4:49 AM ET

The talents behind "Days of Glory," a World War II drama that recounts the sacrifice made by frontline troops from Africa in the rollback of the Nazis, hope their movie will help influence French policy toward veterans from the nation's former colonies.

Director-producer Rachid Bouchareb recently screened his movie, which will be released in North America by the Weinstein Co. and IFC Films, to a select audience including French president Jacques Chirac at a charity event.

Bouchareb said Chirac was sympathetic to the film's specific appeal for non-French veterans to receive the same war pension and invalid benefits as their Gallic counterparts. Until now, they have been paid only a fraction of what French veterans receive.

Several hundred thousand troops from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and elsewhere fought with Allied troops to liberate Italy and France, sustaining heavy casualties.

"Days of Glory" stars Jamel Debbouze ("Amelie"), Samy Naceri ("Taxi"), Roschdy Zem ("Live and Become") and Sami Bouajila ("The Siege"), all of whom are of North African descent and whose participation in the film was in part motivated by a wish to see the role their forebears played in the war finally recognized.

The director said he hopes an Internet campaign based around the film's French release on September 27 will bring sufficient popular pressure on the president. The movie's Web site includes a petition addressed to Chirac calling for a change in veterans' pensions.

"We hope there will be a massive popular response," Bouchareb said.

"Days of Glory" screened in competition at Cannes Film Festival and won a collective acting award for its protagonists. The film has been selected by Algeria to vie for a nomination in the foreign-language category at the Oscars.
 
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