New Voices in Arab Cinema

New Voices in Arab Cinema

New Voices in Arab Cinema

New Voices in Arab Cinema

Synopsis

New Voices in Arab Cinema focuses on contemporary filmmaking since the 1980s, but also considers the longer history of Arab cinema. Taking into consideration film from the Middle East and North Africa and giving a special nod to films produced since the Arab Spring and the Syrian crisis, Roy Armes explores themes such as modes of production, national cinemas, the role of the state and private industry on film, international developments in film, key filmmakers, and the validity of current notions like globalization, migration and immigration, and exile. This landmark book offers both a coherent, historical overview and an in-depth critical analysis of Arab filmmaking.

Excerpt

This book is a personal journey through aspects of contemporary Arab filmmaking, dealing essentially with feature-length documentary films and fictional features made by filmmakers who began their careers in the 2000s. It has been an enjoyable and very revealing journey. the hundreds of films I have viewed basically adopt a single perspective: they are for understanding, liberty, equality, tolerance, and greater freedom for women. Not a single film I have seen—or even heard of—advocates jihad, war, violence, or oppression. According to Wissam Mouawad (currently a student at the Sorbonne) in a curious little article, my pleasure is a form of “neo-Orientalism,” worse than the original, because we in the West are now employing local “manufacturers” (he refuses to call them artists) to produce the vision we wish to receive of the Arab world. He chooses a predictably easy target for his wrath (Nadine Labaki’s Where Do We Go Next?—a film clearly aimed at a popular audience). His argument would have been much more difficult to sustain had he chosen, for example, Haifaa al-Mansour’s even more widely distributed and universally admired debut feature, Wadjda.

The reasons for the uniformity of approach shared by so many of the new Arab filmmakers is easily explained. It lies largely in the situation of the filmmakers themselves. For independent filmmakers working in the Maghreb and the Middle East, the norm is European/US education and film training, foreign (mostly French) co-production funding, and in many cases, expatriate, usually European, residence (Nadine Labaki is almost unique in not having received a foreign education and/or training). Their films are all designed, at least in part, to please European funding organizations and potential coproduction collaborators and (for documentaries) international television corporations and ngo (non-governmental organization) sponsors, without whose continuing support the filmmaker’s career is unlikely to progress. It will be fascinating to see if the increasing availability of Gulf funding—through the Doha festival, for example—changes the nature of Arab filmmaking.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.