Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Cultural Critique

Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Cultural Critique

Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Cultural Critique

Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Cultural Critique


Ten Arab Filmmakers provides an up-to-date overview of the best of Arab cinema, offering studies of leading directors and in-depth analyses of their most important films. The filmmakers profiled here represent principal national cinemas of the Arab world--Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, and Syria. Although they have produced many of the region's most-renowned films and gained recognition at major international festivals, with few exceptions these filmmakers have received little critical attention. All ten share a concern with giving image and voice to people struggling against authoritarian regimes, patriarchal traditions, or religious fundamentalism--theirs is a cinéma engagé.

The featured directors are Daoud Abd El-Sayed, Merzak Allouache, Nabil Ayouch, Youssef Chahine, Mohamed Chouikh, Michel Khleifi, Nabil Maleh, Yousry Nasrallah, Jocelyne Saab, and Elia Suleiman.


Ten Arab Filmmakers completes a journey I embarked on a decade ago. As we were inundated by television and cinema presenting Western perspectives on the Middle East after 9/11, I sought to bring to my students voices and images from the region. Eventually I edited Film in the Middle East and North Africa: Creative Dissidence (2011), which presented the nine principal national cinemas of the region and featured eighteen films. The present volume complements it by focusing on distinguished Arab directors.

I thank the nine contributors from three continents who agreed to join our venture, who responded to my critical comments, endured my unending suggestions, and experienced unfortunate delays in the completion of the manuscript. I appreciate the critical comments and advice I received along the way.

We are indebted to the directors who made themselves available to us, provided us with copies of films not yet in distribution, and furnished illustrations. We benefited from the comments of two anonymous reviewers. Our book was enriched by the individuals and institutions, acknowledged in the credits, who provided illustrations.

My special thanks to Walter Armbrust and Nadia Yaqub for their excellent advice. Lynne Goodstein offered crucial support. Gordon Daigle, Maha Darawsha, and Ingrid Gugler assisted in various ways. But for the expertise and devotion of Alex Bothell, many illustrations would be in worse shape; others would have been abandoned altogether as unsuitable for printing.

I cherish the support my wife and our daughters gave me in spite of my sins of neglect and distraction while I was working on this project.

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