The Project'heurts Association, organiser of Bejaia Film Meetings, regrets to announce that the film "Vote Off", directed by Faisal Hammoum, and produced by Thala Films, originally scheduled for Thursday September 8 2016 at 17p.m. has not received a cultural visa for its screening. Constrained by Law No. 11-03 of 17 February 2011 on Cinematography, decree 13-276. The Project'heurts association is obliged to cancel the film's screening.
The Project'Heurts association, particularly attached to the values of democracy and freedom of expression and creation, decided to open a debate on film law, freedom of creation in Algeria, on Thursday at 17p.m. at the time that "Vote off" was scheduled to be screened, with the director and producer of the film.
Letter from the director of Vote Off, Faisal Hammoum
Ladies and gentlemen,
Artists, journalists, spectators, curious citizens lovers of culture and friends from all sides, it is with great sadness that I address you today.
Indeed, a few days ago, I received a call from Abdenour Hochiche, head of Bejaia Cinema Encounters. He told me with surprise that my documentary "Vote Off", filmed two years ago in Algiers during the last presidential election, and produced by Thala Films, will not be screened this Thursday September 8 as part of these Encounters, as was originally planned. The reason why: the Ministry of Culture denied projection authorisation. This documentary, dealing with the presidential elections, is the only of all the scheduled films not to obtain permission (the implementation of which, remember, is very recent), so all we can do is face the facts and call things by their name: this is a blatant case of censorship!
Being a young filmmaker as others are doctors or bakers, and like them, modestly doing what I do best, this constant battle with the my country's government and other "supreme" culture authorities begins to tire me. And I, in the same way, tire in advance of having to seek pardon for a film sentenced to death by censorship.
As I am, for my part, condemned to hope, I'm going to talk to you now about a film, about freedom and youth. This film is called "VOTE OFF". It might as well have been called "There was once an April 2014" or "What wled houmti dreamt of." This is above all a film made with Algerians, in Algeria, with, admittedly, modest means of production, but with a monstrous energy.
This is an electoral journey, or rather a stroll which rubs shoulders with doubt, fear, and hope. Like a postman, I went door-to-door; I spent time with friends and met new ones; I captured intimate moments; I saw these men and women leave home to go to work, to dream, to fight, and I wanted to film them, to love them, to accompany each of their moments of life and build with them a story which became, finally, a film, but also a piece of our collective memory. This memory that we will bequeath to our children.
Beyond the individual paths of my characters, who are central to the project, I also made this movie for a reason that is simple and probably a bit naive: I want to believe that Algeria can and should be as democratic as possible.
To ban this film is to ban the belief that inspired it. The belief in a lawful country where the expression of an idea is not perceived as a threat but an opportunity.
To ban this film is to ban in advance all the films that want to support that. This is, like it or not, to admit that nothing will change.
The paths of freedom are not always simple and that's why you should never lose sight of them. One can always bury a film but never the speech, much less the thought of men.