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Arab cinema from 1960s to the present at New York’s MOMA

A wide range of films from the Middle East is being screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art this month, displaying the diversity and richness of Arab filmmakers

Ahram Online, Monday 12 Nov 2012
Death for Sale. 2011. Morocco/Belgium/France. Directed by Faouzi Bensaïdi.
Death for Sale. 2011. Morocco/Belgium/France. Directed by Faouzi Bensaïdi. Photo: MoMA
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Currently on show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York is a film programme entitled Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, Part III. It is the third and final edition of Mapping Subjectivity, a project that explores Arab film’s tackling of gender roles and shifting perspectives towards sexuality in the Middle East. 

Mapping Subjectivity’s third instalment continues to look into largely overlooked works from the region, revealing how the poetics of change, brought about by political turmoil in the Middle East, are dramatised across generations and countries. Further, the series presents how Arab filmmakers have dealt with the socio-political transformations in the region through diverse and creative artistic practices. 

Short films, features, documentaries and fiction from Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria and Tunisia are screened for a cosmopolitan audience in New York, asserting the region’s artistic range and diversity in visual language.

Among the films currently screened at MOMA are a documentary by Tunisia’s Ahmed Bennys entitled Mohammadia (1974), La Nouba (1977) by Algerian writer and filmmaker Assia Djebar, and My Wife and the Dog by Egypt’s Said Marzouk (1971).

Also in the programme are two more contemporary productions that were inspired by the breakout of protests in the Arab world and the region’s desire for change. From Tunisia comes Babylon (2012) by Ala Eddine Slim, Ismael, and Yousef Chebbi, while Lamine Ammar-Khodja’s Ask Your Shadow (2012) hails from Algeria/France.

This line-up of Arab films was chosen for their experimentation with visual language and structure and the presentation of compelling drama that tackles contemporary changes in the region. 

Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, Part III runs through 25 November.

The Museum of Modern Art 

11 West 53 Street  New York, NY 10019

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