FILM SCREENING: OF GODS AND MEN, by Xavier Beauvois
France – 2010 – 120 min – Language: French and Arabic
With Lambert Wilson, Michael Lonsdale, Olivier Rabourdin, Philippe Laudenbach and others
In the presence of Michael Lonsdale
In partnership with the French Institute in Fes
In 2010, Xavier Beauvois made an admirable film about the abduction and assassination of seven Cistercian monks in March 1996 in Algeria.
During the conflict between the Algerian state and Islamist guerrillas, seven French monks living in the Tibéhirine monastery in the Atlas Mountains were abducted. Two months later, after fruitless negociations with the French, the GIA (Armed Islamist Group) announced their assassination. Their heads were found on 30 May 1996, but not their bodies. During the long enquiry that followed, the veracity of the official version was questioned and an hypothesis of involvement of the Algerian army was put forward.
The film was awarded the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, particularly because it showcased the point of view of the Cistercian order that includes silence and contemplation and also working the land, communion through song, aid for the poor, care for sick and brotherhood between men. It was this spiritual aspect that Xavier Beauvois wanted to highlight: this Pascalian sentiment of the finiteness of man, and of the opening up to others that it implies.