Screens and Veils
Maghrebi Women's Cinema
Publication Year: 2011
Examined within their economic, cultural, and political context, the work of women Maghrebi filmmakers forms a cohesive body of work. Florence Martin examines the intersections of nation and gender in seven films, showing how directors turn around the politics of the gaze as they play with the various meanings of the Arabic term hijab (veil, curtain, screen). Martin analyzes these films on their own theoretical terms, developing the notion of "transvergence" to examine how Maghrebi women's cinema is flexible, playful, and transgressive in its themes, aesthetics, narratives, and modes of address. These are distinctive films that traverse multiple cultures, both borrowing from and resisting the discourses these cultures propose.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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Overture Maghrebi Women’s Transvergent Cinema
For over three decades now, women from the Maghreb (i.e., Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) have directed unique films, full of cultural revelations and allusions. The purpose of this book is to show, through the close analysis of seven specific films as exemplars of Maghrebi women’s production (two Algerian,...
Act I Transnational Feminist Storytellers
1 Assia Djebar’s Transvergent Nuba
Shahrazad’s tales included other tales in a mise en abyme that deepened as the Nights unfolded. Contemporary Maghrebi women’s filmic narratives often follow a similar pattern. The resulting films offer a complex narrative web of embedded tales. In Barakat, for instance, the surface narrative of the quest...
2 Farida Benlyazid’s Initiation Narrative
As soon as Dunyazad enters the Sultan’s chamber, Shahrazad’s narration becomes clearly bifurcated: thanks to the presence of her sister, the storyteller addresses two audiences as the same time. Shahrazad, having placed Dunyazad (the familiar, powerless, female character) alongside the Sultan (the less familiar, powerful male figure), is thus able to play with the familiar and with...
Act II Transvergent Screens
3 Yamina Bachir-Chouikh’s Transvergent Echoes
Watching Rachida in the wake of Djebar’s Nuba further illuminates the twists and turns of a commonly shared larger narrative in the Shahrazad tradition, as if Bachir-Chouikh had picked up her camera where Djebar had left her pen and camera. The transvergent quality of the narrative strategies that had started...
4 Raja Amari’s Screen of the Haptic
At the end of The Nights, Shahrazad marries the Sultan, and Dunyazad marries his brother. The description of the marriage feast is replete with details on the various attires both brides wear. Shahrazad’s first dress is of a deep red:...
5 Nadia El Fani’s Multiple Screens
How would a contemporary Shahrazad convey her multiple, embedded stories? Her mise en abyme of several stories could, of course, take the form of the hypertext linkages of today: at the click of the teller’s finger, a new story would unfold, like a Japanese paper flower. Another possible way to open up story...
Act III From Dunyazad to Transvergent Audiences
6 Yasmine Kassari’s “Burning” Screens
In the twenty-first century, how would Dunyazad be able to hear and respond to a transnational incarnation of Shahrazad? To a sister who has migrated far away into a different culture and still whispers tales meant for her sibling left at home? For, although Dunyazad can recognize her sister’s world, lexicon...
7 Selma Baccar’s Transvergent Spectatorship
The site of Shahrazad’s storytelling performance in One Thousand and One Nights is the Sultan’s chamber. As we have seen before, her sister’s presence in the liminal space between the realms of Eros and Thanatos – the nuptial bedroom is also the antechamber of Shahrazad’s planned execution – is both a...
Appendix A: Political and Cinematic Chronology
Appendix B: Primary Filmography
Appendix C: Selected Filmography of Hiam Abbas