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Zineb Sedira in the Sunday Times: The joy of revolution

Zineb Sedira, a French-Algerian artist and filmmaker, was in Cape Town to screen her ‘Dreams Have No Titles’

On November 5 1970, members of the Black Panther Party faced trial at the New York Supreme Court for conspiracy, arson and other charges. That day, Joseph Phillis, an assistant district attorney, insisted on showing the film The Battle of Algiers (1966) by Gillo Pontecorvo as part of the prosecution’s evidence. The film follows the Algerian struggle for independence in the 1950s, which Phillis argued was material the Panthers used in their guerrilla warfare training. The screening was meant to stigmatise the Black Panthers and compare them with the Algerian Front de Libération Nationale (FLN), but the strategy backfired and in May 1971 the Panthers were all acquitted. Edwin Kennebeck, one of the jurors, admitted: “The film did more to help me see things from the defence point of view than the DA [district attorney] suspected.

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