The Unknown Soldiers

Tobias Grey introduces a film about the North African soldiers in the Second World War which has taken France by storm, and is opening in Britain on March 30th.

For the film director Rachid Bouchareb, whose grandfather fought on the side of the Allies in the Second World War, making Indigènes (literally: natives) was never going to be easy. French-born, though of Algerian descent, Bouchareb had set his heart on making the first big budget war movie to address the roughly 300,000 ‘native’ North African soldiers who helped liberate France and other parts of Europe.

‘The story is a part of France’s history which not many people know about and has all but been erased from the school books,’ said Bouchareb from the French set of Indigènes some two years ago.

‘Until recently France tried to whitewash the part our grandfathers played in the liberation. Because of that, there was a lot of difficulty convincing finan­cial people that this film should be a big-budget one.’

After over a year spent knocking on doors to no avail, Bouchareb’s search for fund­ing eventually led him to Morocco, which along with Algeria and Tunisia, com­prised France’s former North African colonies.

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