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My life inclined towards films

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Working as the colonel’s secretary
Jean-Claude Carrière Film-maker
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I kept that memory, as well as one about... I was already rather old, I was the colonel's secretary, so I stayed with him out on missions, but I was also in his office, as his secretary and I had access to secret files.

I mean the files regarding officers' behaviour. Therefore I knew everything about what they had done, even sometimes about some of crimes they may have committed. And I was working closely with the colonel writing notes and commenting on their promotions. So every officer knew that I knew their secrets. That also was quite interesting.

And I was one of the very few French soldiers who, without any problems, would go to Algerian restaurants, even to some hammams. I was going about once a week to the hammam in the small city we were stationed in, called at the time Omal, and I was the only European in the middle of the indigenous population, and nothing ever happened to me. Everyone was saying, 'You're crazy going there', obviously you could not get in carrying a weapon. You were searched on the way in but nothing ever happened, I only have fond memories of the time.

J’étais déjà âgé, j’étais secrétaire d’un colonel, je l’accompagnais dans une opération mais j’étais aussi dans son bureau, son secrétaire, et j’avais accès aux dossiers secrets. C’est-à-dire aux dossiers concernant la conduite des officiers du régiment. Donc je savais tout sur ce qu’ils avaient fait, éventuellement même des crimes qu’ils avaient pu commettre. Et je collaborais avec le colonel pour écrire les notes et les commentaires sur leurs avancements possibles. Donc les officiers de tout le régiment savaient que je savais leurs secrets. C’était aussi assez intéressant. Et j’étais un des très rares soldats français qui allait sans aucun problème dans les restaurants totalement algériens et même dans des hammams… j’allais presque une fois par semaine dans le hammam de la petite ville où on était, qui s’appelait à l’époque Omal, où j’étais le seul européen au milieu d’indigènes et il ne m’est jamais rien arrivé. Tout le monde me disait: «Mais tu es fou d’aller là- bas…», on n’avait évidement pas le droit d’y aller avec une arme. On était fouillé à l’entrée mais il ne m’est jamais rien arrivé, je n’ai gardé que de bons souvenirs.

French screenwriter Jean-Claude Carrière began his association with films aged 24 when he was selected by Jacques Tati to write for him. This early experience led to further contact with other film-makers, including Luis Buñuel with whom Carrière collaborated for many years. He has written screenplays for films including 'Belle de Jour', 'The Discreet Charms of the Bourgeoisie', 'Tin Drum' and 'Danton'.

Listeners: Andrzej Wolski

Film director and documentary maker, Andrzej Wolski has made around 40 films since 1982 for French television, the BBC, TVP and other TV networks. He specializes in portraits and in historical films. Films that he has directed or written the screenplay for include Kultura, which he co-directed with Agnieszka Holland, and KOR which presents the history of the Worker’s Defence Committee as told by its members. Andrzej Wolski has received many awards for his work, including the UNESCO Grand Prix at the Festival du Film d’Art.

Tags: Algeria

Duration: 1 minute, 14 seconds

Date story recorded: January 2010

Date story went live: 26 July 2010