Magazine article Screen International

Algerian Oscar Submission ‘Papicha’ Faces Censorship Challenge

Magazine article Screen International

Algerian Oscar Submission ‘Papicha’ Faces Censorship Challenge

Article excerpt

Producers fight to screen film locally in time to hit Sept 30 deadline.

The producers of Algeria’s 2020 Oscar submission, Mounia Meddour’s youthful rebellion drama Papicha, are battling to screen the film in the country after local authorities pulled the plug on a planned theatrical release this week.

The feature, which premiered to warm reviews in Un Certain Regard in May, was due to make its theatrical debut in Algeria in a gala screening in the capital of Algiers on Sept 22, ahead of a wider release.

Producers Xavier Gens and Gregoire Gensollen at Paris-based The Ink Connection and co-producer Belkacem Hadjadj at Algiers-based Tayda Film learned out of the blue that permission for the screening and release had been canceled.

The film needs to screen in Algeria before Sept 30 in order to qualify for inclusion in the Academy Awards’ rebranded International Feature Film category. The film’s selection as Algeria’s submission was announced back in July.

“We haven’t been given an official reason as to why the film’s premiere and release have been cancelled but we think it’s due to government censorship,” Gens told Screen.

Set against the backdrop of a strict female university hall of residence during Algeria’s violent civil war of the 1990s, the film revolves around a free-spirited student who defies the rising tide of Islamic conservatism by organising a fashion show. …

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