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Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels cover image

Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels 2022


Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Carine Chichkowsky, Vanja Jambrovic, Tibor Keser, Vuk Perovic, and Mila Turajlic
Directed by Mila Turajlić
Streaming, 94 mins

College - General Adult
Documentaries; Foreign Affairs; World History

Date Entered: 09/15/2023

Reviewed by Stacey Marien, Retired Emerita Acquisitions Librarian/American University

The Algerian conflict took place between France and the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) from 1954 and 1962 and ended with Algeria gaining their independence. Yugoslavia, under Marshall Tito, was a strong supporter of this independence fight because of socialist theory and their own experience under the Nazis. Throughout the war, Yugoslavia provided food, medicine, and military supplies to the fighters. 1n 1959, Tito sent Stevan Labudović (1926-2017), a photographer and cameraman, to be embedded with the liberation fighters and shoot film that would contrast with the propaganda films about the war made by the French. He spent three years embedded with the FLN and produced miles of film of combat operations.

The director of Ciné-Guerillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels, Mila Turajlić, was visiting a museum in Algeria and saw on display a camera once owned by Labudović. Since she and the aging cameraman were both from Serbia and she had never heard of his name, she decided to find him and interview him about his time in the war. The film is roughly divided into three segments. The first segment focuses on the director talking to Labudović in Belgrade and interspersing the conversations with clips from his reels. His film has been preserved in the archives of the Filmske Novosti (also known as the Yugoslav Newsreels), the central newsreel agency of Yugoslavia. Turajlić also interviews others in Belgrade who were involved in the war and knew Labudović. The second segment has Turajlić traveling to Algeria to interview those fighters who were still living and knew Labudović. The third segment takes place in New York City with the director interviewing a woman who was involved in lobbying the United Nations to recognize Algerian independence. The film ends with Labudović returning to Algeria for a tribute.

The topic is interesting as a documentary about one man, but the narrative context is left out. The director uses the technique of not identifying any of the players until the credits roll so this makes for somewhat confusing viewing. If the viewer didn’t know anything about the Algerian conflict, then it would be difficult to figure out what was going on. There could have been more explanation about why Yugoslavia was so aligned with Algeria. This film is in nice contrast to the classic movie Battle of Algiers. Battle of Algiers is a fictional movie that pretends to be a documentary from the Algerian perspective. This film shows the real events even though it includes fictitious scenes of combat.

This film is a tribute to a man who was directly involved with the FLN and shows a rare inside viewpoint on an historical event.

This documentary is available streaming through Docuseek2 and in DVD formats. Institutions that purchase the DVD receive a license for institutional use and public performance rights. The film is in Color/B&W with Serbian; English; French; Arabic / English subtitles. Ciné-Guerillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels is recommended as supplementary material for advanced high school classes and college courses that focus on the Cold War, International Affairs, World History or Foreign Policy.

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.