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Terror's Advocate 

When French lawyer Jacques Verges defended Algerian heroine Djamila Bouhired in the '50s, he made a name for himself internationally by taking a radically independent and even heroic anti-imperial stand. The young and beautiful Bouhired had bombed a café that catered to European tourists as part of the resistance movement to the brutal occupation of Algeria, and in her defense, Verges boldly put French colonialism on trial. He eventually spared her the guillotine, and after Algeria was liberated, the two eventually married and had two children. But Verges ducked out of their marriage and literally disappeared for eight years. Barbet Schroeder's fascinating documentary attempts to piece together Verges' whereabouts and how he came to defend some of the world's most notorious war criminals, dictators and terrorists. Verges was linked to Pol Pot and defended former Nazi Klaus Barbie, Slobodan Milosevic and countless Islamic militants. At first he seemed to identify the Palestinian cause as another occupier-versus-occupied-peoples' issue. But he went on to defend terrorists and assassins who were conducting hijackings and kidnappings to fund their operations. He also defended many African dictators. The film provides an intriguing look at how France dealt with Islamic terrorism long before 9/11 brought it to American shores and consciousness. And in the middle of it all, Verges constantly argues that a government that uses torture is in no position to condemn war criminals. In interviews, Verges is contentious and eloquent, but it's the real-life, Pynchon-like network of terrorists and criminals, like Carlos the Jackal, who he associated with and worked for that make this film riveting. In French with English subtitles. Tickets $7 general admission, $5 film society/CAC members. " Will Coviello

7:30 p.m. Wed., Jan. 15

CAC, 900 Camp St., 528-3800; www.cacno.org

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