The Movie is the Message

French director Rachid Bouchareb's latest film has parlayed the power of cinema into tangible change.

Hollywood's activists would do well to remember that their day jobs might be a better means of broadcasting social messages than globe-trotting or baby-adopting. This is a lesson not lost on the French director Rachid Bouchareb, whose latest film has parlayed the power of cinema into tangible change.Days of Glory follows the true story of four North African soldiers fighting for French liberation during World War II. Despite significant contributions to victory-stunningly depicted in the film-these soldiers and their countrymen were treated as second-class citizens. After the war, they received pensions worth a fraction of those awarded to French soldiers.Though motivated by this injustice, Bouchareb says he had to get beyond history and focus on connecting with the audience: In the end, it's our emotions that make us care about these men, not any abstract sense of justice. Clearly, it worked. Upon seeing Days of Glory when it was released in France last fall, President Jacques Chirac felt compelled to equalize the pensions of the roughly 80,000 still-living foreign soldiers who had served with the French Army.