Date: Tuesday 28 March 2023
Time: 8:50 PM
Venue: ICA, Cinema 1
Now!, dir. Santiago Álvarez, Cuba 1965, 6 min., English
Mémoire 14, dir. Ahmed Bouanani, Morocco 1971, 30 min., French with English subtitles
The Zerda and the Songs of Forgetting (La Zerda et les chants de l’oubli/el Zerda wa aghani al Nisyan), dir. Assia Djebar, Algeria 1982, 57 min., Arabic and French with English subtitles
Apartheid Casablanca, dir. Nadir Bouhmouch, Morocco 2021, 5 min., Arabic with English subtitles
The Non-Aligned Film Archives is an ongoing programme curated by researchers and archivists Léa Morin and Annabelle Aventurin in collaboration with Open City Documentary Film Festival. The project aims to create a space to share films that have been neglected and overlooked – important works, many of which have been recently restored, that have been marginalised from dominant cinematic narratives. Each session revolves around a single lost work that is instead invoked through other films that have survived.
“The inspiration of this third programme is a censored documentary by Algérian filmmaker Farouk Beloufa : Insurrectionnelle (1972). For this essay film, which would never be completed, Farouk Beloufa (1947-2018) gathered hundreds of hours of footage documenting the Algerian War of Independence. His intention was to reveal some of the less visible dynamics that shaped the Algerian liberation, and to bring to light the struggles taking place throughout what was then the Third World. However, his vision and the Marxist position of the film clashed with official views of a nascent Algerian state anxious to establish its legitimacy. The authorities assigned another team to re-edit the film which was then credited as a “collective work” and renamed “The War of Liberation”. Beloufa would only complete one feature film, Nahla (1979), one of the most beautiful in African cinema.
The films in this programme act together as an invocation and a reconstruction of Beloufa’s unfinished work. Concerned with speaking out against colonial and/or capitalist violence, Santiago Alvarez, Ahmed Bouanani, Assia Djebar and Nadir Bouhmouch attempt to reappropriate identities and narratives in opposition to an exoticising colonial gaze. They share a commitment to speaking from the people’s perspective. This desire to establish a popular narrative, in opposition to official histories, exposed their work to censorship, marginalisation and even erasure. These experimental essay films act as poetic and political audio-visual pamphlets that utlise the weapons of cinema to fight against colonialism, authoritarian regimes seeking to impose a unified narrative, and the resulting social injustices. In the face of this violence, the filmmakers present a cinema of evocations, sensations and audio-visual experiences that summon the traces of a silent popular memory and the breath of a possible insurrection.”
–Léa Morin and Annabelle Aventurin.
This screening will be introduced by Ali Essafi.
Santiago Alvarez, Cuba, 1965, 5 min
A powerful musical film collage that charts the struggle for racial justice through found documents, archives and magazines. Alvarez was a committed filmmaker and talented editor, who worked for many years with Cuban newsreels and whose films express the struggle against imperialism, solidarity with oppressed peoples and a militant support for the Cuban revolution.
Ahmed Bouanani, Morocco, 1971, 24 min
Mémoire 14 is an anticolonial essay film by the Moroccan filmmaker, writer and poet Ahmed Bouanani (1938-2011), based on his 1967 poem of the same name. Constructed from repurposed archive footage from the Moroccan Cinema Center, the film is an account of the French Protectorate in Morocco as seen through the eyes of those living under colonial rule. Bouanani was prevented from making the film as he had intended and suffered heavy censorship from the Moroccan authorities..
LA ZERDA AND THE SONGS OF FORGETTING
Assia Djebar, Algeria, 1982, 60 min
A poem in four songs produced from recycled French newsreels, this essay film by Assia Djebar sets out to deconstruct the image of the colonial Maghreb. The soundtrack attempts to (re)give a voice to the Maghrebins through a collage of collected or re-imagined music and multivocal chants. Assia Djebar (1936–2015) was one of the most prominent figures in North African literature (and cinema), highlighting the role of women in their twinned struggle against colonialism and patriarchy.
Nadir Bouhmouch, Morocco, 2021, 5 min
Apartheid Casablanca is an essay film made over 48 hours in reaction to a film advertising Casablanca. Nadir Bouhmouch is a radical Moroccan filmmaker whose films evoke the strength of poetic resistance and other forms of militant strategies deployed in workers’ struggles in Morocco. This cinematographic collage extends and is in dialogue with the experiments of Santiago Alvarez.
Ali Essafi is a Moroccan Filmmaker and co-founder of the Bouanani Archives in Rabat (a space dedicated to the reactivation of the archives of filmmaker Ahmed Bouanani and his family). He has just published Widen the Circle: An Obscure Experimentation in North African Avant-Garde Cinema where he traces the colonial history present in North African cinema. He will share with the audience his research, methodology, tools (as a filmmaker but also a researcher and a film curator) and work for the valorisation of these forgotten cinematographic archives and avant garde cinema.