Rachid Bouchareb addresses controversy

Festival de Cannes releases statement on 'Outside of the Law'

CANNES -- After weeks of silence, director Rachid Bouchareb has spoken out about his controversial Franco-Algerian war film "Outside of the Law," set to screen In Competition in Cannes on May 21.

French deputy Lionnel Luca sparked a media frenzy weeks ago, accusing Bouchareb's film of distorting history before the government official had even seen the film.

"Faced with such passion, and so as to restore some degree of calm in this over-heated context, it seems to me important to stress two points," Bouchareb said in a statement released by the Festival de Cannes on Thursday. He pointed out that the film is a work of fiction and went on to say, "The cinema must be in a position to tackle all types of subject. I have done this as a filmmaker, with my own sensibilities, without forcing anyone to share them. After the screenings will come the time for public debate."

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The film focuses on a 1945 Algerian uprising against occupying French soldiers the day after the end of World War II and the French government's response that led to a blood-shedding massacre with thousands of casualties.

Bouchareb added, "France is seen by the whole world as a land of liberty, and I am particularly proud to be able to show my film here, in the most prestigious of all festivals. I hope that the screening will take place in a spirit of mutual respect and a calm climate."

Bouchareb's film will be screened for the international press on the morning of May 21 before the official festival red carpet premiere that evening.