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La zerda et les chants de l'oubli. 1982. Algeria. Directed by Assia Djebar. Screenplay by Malek Alloula. In Arabic; English subtitles. 59 min.
La Zerda is a brilliant work of historical revisionism in which the Algerian writers Assia Djebar and Malek Alloula dissect French colonial newsreel propaganda from 1912–42 to reveal the simmering hatreds and signs of revolt among the subjugated Magreb population. Before her death in 2015, Djebar was often mentioned as a contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Her novels, poems, essays, and less-known films are the eloquent expression of a richly conflicted self, torn as she was between her native Algeria and her ambivalently adopted France; between “the maternal tongue of Arabic” and what she called “the language of the enemy” (French); and between the promise of postcolonial liberation and the violent constraints, especially for women, of Islamic fundamentalism.
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