Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, Part II

<img id="placeholder" src="; alt="Stars in Broad Daylight. 1988. Syria. Directed by Oussama Mohammad” />This three-part film exhibition aims to map a largely unknown heritage of personal, artistic, and sometimes experimental cinema from the Arab world. The program highlights kinships in sensibilities and approaches and explores connections and potential conversations between films. The works selected for this second edition of Mapping Subjectivity hail from Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Syria, Tunisia, Qatar, and the UAE. They reflect a diversity and richness of voices and of imaginative visual languages.

From the 1960s onwards, filmmakers and artists have used existing footage—whether found or borrowed from television, cinema, or public or personal archives—to create montages and forge visual narratives that are profoundly daring, innovative, and subjective. These works engage critically, sometimes provocatively, with official stories, often giving voice to what might be considered “unmentionable.” A number of films in part two ofMapping Subjectivity achieve this through personal histories constructed in the first-person singular, including Akram Zaatari’sThis Day, Yto Barrada’s Hand-Me-Downs, Ahmad Ghossein’s My Father Is Still a Communist, Ali Essafi’s Wanted, and Hakim Belabbes’s In Pieces. Azzeddine Meddour’s How Much I Love Youtells the “other” story of liberation from colonialism by allegorically turning colonial film archives upside down.

Audiovisual archives are a repository and chronicle of memories and lived moments; as such, they are as much a part of the fabric of collective imagination as cinema. Rania Stephan boldly explores this idea in her film The Three Disappearances of Soad Hosni. Néjib Belkadhi’s VHS Kahloucha tells the story of an ordinary man’s appropriation of film classics, while Ali Essafi’sOuarzazate, the Movie uncovers the alternate reality of film production on location. Mohamed Soueid’s Tango of Yearning is a cinephile’s poetic elegy to film and Beirut’s movie theaters, pieced together from memories and traces of a city undergoing a radical transformation.

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