Days of Glory: Political Impact in France and the U.K.

March 12, 2007–Rachid Bouchareb’s Oscar-nominated war film “Days of Glory,” about North African soldiers who helped liberate France in WW II, had real political impact in France and now the director hopes that his film would have a similar effect in the UK.

“Days of Glory” encouraged President Chirac to raise the pensions of war vets from France’s former colonies in line with French vets. Now Bouchareb and the British Gurkha Welfare Society are using the movie’s U.K. release to put pressure Prime Minister Tony Blair to address perceived pensions injustice.

Writing in a public letter to Blair published as a full page advertisement in the Guardian newspaper, Bouchareb said, “The Gurkhas have fought for Britain since the 19th century and are still serving in the British forces. But despite their renown as some of the bravest soldiers in your army, they receive just one fifth of the pension awarded to their British national counterparts.”

“It is our hope that you will now honor your country’s heroes and treat them with equality. Your government has the power to change the law, to invoke Britain’s humanitarian responsibility and to give these men back the respect of a nation and the dignity they justly deserve.”

The Guardian letter invites Blair to the screening of “Days of Glory” at the Human Rights Watch Festival on March 29, the day before the distributor Metrodome will release the picture on 50 prints.

According to a Metrodome spokesperson, a protest march is being organized that see upwards of 1,000 Gurkhas gather outside the cinema in full regalia. A law change announcement boosting the pensions of Gurkhas was made on March 8, but Bouchareb and the British Gurkha Welfare Society are disappointed it does not apply to vets who served prior to July 1, 1997.