This film essay pieces together various photographs and footage of the Zerda ceremony from colonial archives, with anonymous poetic voiceovers recounting the lived experiences of indigenous Algerians. This pairing examines the contrast between the foreign perspective and the reality of the lives being viewed from that perspective, and the soundtrack is interspersed with “songs of forgetting” to recognize traditions that are being lost to colonialism even as they are tokenized by and subjugated to the colonial gaze. Read More »
Set in a rugged little Algerian mountain village, in a moslem culture, where male and female society works under a strongly patriarchal controlling influence. Insensitive and brutish Sidi has three wives, one-near suicide, and an adoptive son whom he beats and intends to force into a farcical marriage. Simple-minded Kaddour cannot find a bride and is eventually married to a mannequin dummy… Read More »
Rachida lives and teaches in a popular neighborhood in Argel. Like most of her countrymen, she thinks the conflict which is bleeding out her country does not affect her, until the day she is confronted by a group of terrorists that includes a former student of hers, Sofiane. The group asks her to plant a bomb in her school. When she refuses, the terrorists shoot her in cold blood. She saves her life miraculously and takes refuge in a nearby village. Read More »
Fatima, a strong-minded woman, is the lead masseuse of a hammam in Algiers. This is 1995 and the situation is tense in the capital. The day ahead promises to be hectic for all, and for Fatima in particular. Already, while walking to her place of work, she is the distant witness of a terrorist attack. At the hammam, Fatima should feel better, but the atmosphere proves electric in her small enclosed world, she has great difficulty in maintaining order. All the more as Meriem, a sixteen-year-old pregnant girl comes to take shelter at the hammam. And as irate brother, Mohamed, is after her to cleanse his honor in blood. Written by Guy Bellinger Read More »
As exciting as any Hollywood epic, Chronicles of the Years of Embers follows a poor peasant from his drought-stricken village through his first encounters with colonialism, his service in the French army in World War II and finally his participation in the nascent Algerian resistance movement. Rich and inventive, this wide-screen epic is an ambitious historical fresco of the years leading to the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence. A rare treat this gem of world cinema has not been previously released commercially and has not been made available on video in the United States.
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Young Boualem just wants a little quiet, a little space to be himself and follow his desires. He works six nights a week at a French bakery in the impoverished section of Algiers known as Bab el-Oued, and then returns to his room to sink into well-earned sleep. However, right on the rooftop of his apartment building is a loudspeaker from the local mosque, incessantly blaring out admonitions and condemnations in a pounding, mind-numbing monotone. It is a North African version of 1984 and Big Brother. Finally, Boualem can take it no more. In a fit of madness, he tears down the loudspeaker and throws it into the sea. Boualem is quickly filled with guilt and apprehension for what he has done. He is a decent young man and a believer, and desecrating the property of the mosque is a sin.. But more than that, he quickly finds himself the quarry of a relentless pursuit.
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After the riots of December and the first peaceful marches, while “the Arab Spring” begins in Tunisia and Egypt, Fouzi wants his actors together to show them the incomplete editing of the film he made, two years ago, on the disillusionment of a youth seeking to express his artistic ideas. He seeks an alternative view, especially an ending. He relies on the reactions of his actors to invent a new conclusion to his story, in a country suddenly lifted by a wave of protests. A new vision of today’s Algerian youth, in the middle of a new political and artistic questioning. Read More »