Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity

Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity

Viola Shafik

Language: English

Pages: 288

ISBN: 9774160657

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Since it was first published in 1998, Viola Shafik’s Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity has become an indispensable work for scholars of film and the contemporary Middle East. Combining detailed narrative history—economic, ideological, and aesthetic—with thought-provoking analysis, Arab Cinema provides a comprehensive overview of cinema in the Arab world, tracing the industry’s development from colonial times to the present. It analyzes the ambiguous relationship with commercial western cinema, and the effect of Egyptian market dominance in the region. Tracing the influence on the medium of local and regional art forms and modes of thought, both classical and popular, Shafik shows how indigenous and external factors combine in a dynamic process of “cultural repackaging.”

Now updated to reflect cultural shifts in the last ten years of cinema, this revised edition contains a new afterword highlighting the latest developments in popular film and in cinéma d’auteur (art house movies), with a special focus on Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. While exploring problematic issues such as European co-production for Arab art films, including their relation to cultural identity and their reception in the region and abroad, this new edition introduces readers to some of the most compelling cinematic works of the last decade.

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five shared in the writing and directing of their plays and their two films, The Marriage (al-cUrs, 1978) and Arabs (cArab, 1988). The Marriage, which was shot in black and white, is characterized by immense emotional density and deep dramatic tension. Organized like a studio theater play, it is centered around two actors whose performance is confined to one simple location. The protagonists, a newly married couple on their wedding night, have a fierce quarrel, which reveals their weakness and

of Abu Seif, including Raya and Sakina (Raya wa Sakina), The Beast (al-Wahsh), Youth of a Woman (Shabab imra'a) and Between Sky and Earth (Bayn al-sama' wa-l-ard).37 These served as drafts for Abu Seif s most outstanding works. Two adaptations of novels by Mahfouz, directed by Abu Seif—Beginning and End (Bidaya wa nihaya) and Cairo 30 from al-Qahira al-djadida (The new Cairo)—count among the most important films of Egyptian realism. During the 1960s Mahfouz held important positions in the world

Le grand voyage, 1982) by Mohamed Ben Abderrahmane Tazi and A Thousand and One Hands (Alf yad wa yad, 1972) by Souheil Ben Baraka are both framed by fictional action, but are, nevertheless, very much concerned to achieve restrained, documentary, and observant camera work. The Big Journey tells the story of a truckdriver whose load gets stolen. Too scared to face his boss, he decides to disappear. He sells the truck in order to escape illegally to Spain. However, the men who are supposed to

the most acclaimed singing teachers of that time.87 However, this is where the film's faithfulness to history ends. Djacfar seems imbued with loyalty to the caliph and honest friendship. His fall is put down to the malicious intrigue of his opponents at court. The interpretation of the vizier's struggle with the sovereign for power is neither realistic nor put into a proper historical context. The slave Dananir is stylized as a symbol of eternal self-denying love. The tragic finale, ending with

dependent. Since the 1970s, Western TV channels and cultural institutions have developed an increasing interest in promoting productions from the so-called Third World. In particular, France has invested in its former francophone North African colonies and created a relative economic dependency of native cinema on French coproduction, quite similar to that of West African cinema.118 Due to its individualism and intellectuality, cinema d'auteur is much more suitable than regional popular cinema

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