Curated by Cecilia Cenciarelli

Female subjugation within patriarchal society, either literally intended or as an allegory of a totalitarian regime, is one of the themes that runs most consistently through the new restorations presented this year. We start with two cornerstones of feminist cinema at the wane of the 1970s: La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua and Khak-e Sar bé Mohr. Assia Djebar in Algeria and Marva Nabili in Iran – through her film will be completed in the US – both succeed in creating a feminine cinematic space through their own distinctive formal research. While Djebar draws on the classical Arab-Andalusian musical tradition to narrate the Algerian women’s war of liberation, Nabili recognises Brechtian theory, poetry and the Persian miniature tradition as the foundations of her cinema. Her ‘Jeanne Dielman’, Roo-Bekheir, will end up paying for her consciousness-raising and rejection of marriage with an exorcism.
Rejecting the interpretation of those who saw in Bona a melodrama about a one-sided amour fou Lino Brocka suggested that the story deals with the institutionalization of patriarchy as a way to denounce violence and alienation under Marcos’ martial laws. An even clearer allegory of the Assad regime is the highly personal Nujum An-Nahar by the Syrian master Ossama Mohammed, inspired by the tradition of Georgian comedy and the cinema of Ettore Scola. Mohammed is also co-writer of al-Leil by Mohamad Malas, in which the great Syrian filmmaker returns to his hometown Quneitra in the Golan Heights between 1936, the year of the first uprisings against the British and Zionists in Palestine, and the year of his hometown destruction.
The elegiac Māyā Miriga also features a family breakdown taking place before the patriarchs’ eyes. Although here, director Nirad Mohapatra (completely unknown in the West) seems to be more interested in a nostalgic farewell to an ancestral world than in criticising a social system that forces women into domestic slavery. Like Khak-e Sar bé Mohr and An-Nahar, Sembène Ousmane’s Camp de Thiaroye was censored in its home country for fear of upsetting relations with France (where it was also invisible for a decade). A rare all-Pan-African – Tunisia, Senegal, Algeria – production, Camp de Thiaroye is a no-holds-barred condemnation of the massacre of Senegalese riflemen, executed by the French forces on their return from war. Last but not least, the bright and beautiful ‘Carnival Trilogy’ by another female pioneer, Sarah Maldoror, made in honour of her friend Amílcar Cabral to celebrate Guinean and Cape Verdean cultures as an element of resistance and liberation from colonial domination.
Finally, one of the first Basque films after the end of Franco’s repression, Tasio is – in Armendariz’ own words: “a film about furtive freedom, about the hidden freedom at odds with norms and conventions.”

Cecilia Cenciarelli