Abstract This article takes us on a journey through occupied Palestine to the ancient city of Nablus, where Palestinian film‐maker Hany Abu‐Assad was location scouting for the shooting of his globally celebrated Paradise Now (2005). The travelogue is a meditation on the interplay between film and fact, fiction and reality, the joy of creative defiance and the mendacity of colonial domination. The ethnographic practices of visual anthropology and academic film studies are taken critically to task for undermining the art and creative energies of a people in their transcendence of a siege condition.
Abstract The appearance in 2003 of two films made by two sisters of the famous cinematic Makhmalbaf clan marked another first for this unusual group. At Five in the Afternoon, a feminist feature film shot in Afghanistan by the elder sister Samira, a short time after the Allied invasion, was closely followed by Joy of Madness, a feature length documentary by her thirteen‐year‐old sister, Hana. Hana’s film was something more than a ‘making of’ film of her sister’s movie production. At the heart of both films stands the figure of the main lead. The struggle between the temperamental director and her intended star, ending in the agreement to participate, presents us with a complex picture of power relations and negotiation, between the darling of festival circles, Samira, and her penniless but astute and independent young teacher from Afghanistan. Joy of Madness carries a genuine and disturbing message about the power relations between the three women, and the acid test of their different feminist agendas.
Abstract This article investigates how icons (such as the fida’i or freedom fighter), motifs (such as gendering of the land) and metaphors (such as the Palestinian wedding) iterated in poetry have become inscribed in the imaginary Palestinian universe of poetics, across cultural, geographical and generational divides, specifically in cinema. It charts how their signification changed over time and their re‐iteration in film with celebrated directors such as Michel Khleifi, Hany Abu‐Assad and Elia Suleiman. It concludes with reflections on Palestinians’ impetus in making art and films from within a chronological purview, ending with the radical turn that Elia Suleiman’s cinema proposes.
Abstract The films of two of Senegal’s most acclaimed directors, the Marxist Ousmane Sembène and the maverick Djibril Diop Mambéty, illustrate a range of possibilities for engagement with Islam within the postcolonial Senegalese context. In Sembène’s Ceddo (1976) we see a critique of Islam from a modernist/modernising and African nationalist perspective. Mambéty’s Touki‐Bouki (1973) is imbued with a sceptical but distinctly Senegalese Sufi aesthetic and, despite the director’s ambivalence towards religion, the visual style and narrative structure of his films are informed by the values and worldview of the mystical and highly syncretic form of Islam that exists in much of Senegal. The overall aim of the article is to trace the complex representation of Islam in these two directors’ work, which reveals the intricate interplay between various forces – religious, social, cultural, political – in Senegal’s predominantly Islamic and democratic republic.
Abstract This article looks at the unique vision of Tunisian Nacer Khemir as expressed in the three feature films he has directed over the past twenty‐five years: Les Baliseurs du désert (1984), Le collier perdu de la colombe (1990) and Bab’ Aziz (2005). His inspiration, rooted in the oral storytelling which formed a key part of his own childhood and in The Arabian Nights, first found expression in collections of fantastical tales and children’s stories. His films, drawing on the same sources, display a highly original approach to film narrative. Stories shift like the desert, which is his key setting, characters appear and disappear without reason, reality and imagination entwine. The quest which drives the characters is for perfect love and mystical understanding and, though there is no didacticism in his work, the director’s constant message is the need for an open and tolerant Islam.
Abstract The highly controversial Turkish film Takva (A Man’s Fear of God) tells the story of a radical Muslim, Muharrem (Erkan Can), who leads an ascetic life, the aim of which is simply to get closer to his creator. The film presents Muharrem’s conflict and trauma caused by an inevitable encounter with the ‘other’: various people with different beliefs and ideas. His safe pattern as an imperceptible member of the congregation disappears and, losing his ability to move in this new world, Muharrem becomes catatonic and turns into an internal exile imprisoned in his own body. In Takva, religion and the congregation become visible and tangible through visual and haptic patterns. Muharrem, the main protagonist, is defined as the site of trauma between different worlds and as the loner who has to face the ‘other’ in close‐up. This article explores the representation of Islam in the film Takva in connection with a Deleuze and Guattarian becoming.
Abstract Women have been present as images in Turkish cinema since its beginnings although, in terms of active involvement in the industry and positive, unbiased images that represent the modern Turkish woman, their visibility is still questionable. After an introduction to the representations of women in early films, before and after the establishment of the republic in 1923, the article draws attention to the most common binaries of the ‘fallen woman’ and naive but morally correct wives/mothers/sisters who occupied the commercial Yeşilçam cinema for decades. These clichés have been abandoned with the evolution of women in modern Turkish society. The new generation’s priorities are the burning issues in modern Turkish society – unemployment, exclusionism, lack of proper education to gain social and economic autonomy and the remnants of the feudal mentality are still dominant, especially in the rural milieu. This article tries to break the prevalent clichés (particularly in the West) about not only Turkish cinema but also Turkish woman and her status in Turkish society.
Abstract The article provides a brief history of Indonesian cinema, mainly since independence from the Dutch in late 1949. It explores the establishment of traditions and major innovations in cinema in three periods: first, the 1950s post‐independence period in which Sukarno was President and Indonesia was a leader in the non‐aligned movement; second, the pro‐Western but politically repressive Suharto New Order period (1966–1998), in which a highly successful commercial cinema developed; and third, after a period of decline in the 1990s, the rebirth in the post‐Suharto Reformasi period of a smaller but vital Indonesian film industry with diverse independent work being produced in a more open society. The article outlines major films by innovative directors and explores an engagement with Islamic issues in the best of these films in a syncretic society with many surviving Hindu–Buddhist traditions.
Abstract The study of the ‘Islamicate’ films of Bombay has focused on high‐quality genres, such as the Islamicate historical, the Muslim social, and the courtesan film. This paper looks at a neglected sub‐genre which it labels ‘the Muslim Devotional’, using the term from the well established ‘devotional’ genre, which is almost exclusively Hindu. Unlike the other Islamicate films which are concerned with religion only as part of the social and cultural life of Indian Muslims, these B‐movies are about religion itself, both belief and religious practice. Mostly made in the 1970s and 1980s, they depict a popular Islam where divine intervention changes lives, and create a synthesis of Sufi and Shiite influences, often focusing on the shrine of Garib Nawaz in Ajmer, as well as other pilgrimage sites. The films share forms, images and music found widely in popular Islamic belief and practice in India.
Abstract This article discusses the ‘cut‐piece’, short strips of celluloid containing sexually explicit imagery that are spliced in and out of Bangladeshi feature films, even during screening. Such cut‐pieces came into existence in Bangladesh in the mid‐1990s and are made in Bangladesh with Bangladeshi actors and crew. The article outlines the generic conventions of such Bangladeshi hard‐core cinematic pornography found in Bangladeshi action movies and focuses on four generic characteristics: production values and the representations of female nudity, rape and class difference. To analyse this imagery, the author relies on the discussions of the American stag film by Thomas Waugh and Linda Williams. This article aims to open up discussions of pornographic cinema in South Asia, especially its Muslim majority societies.
Abstract This article is a historical overview of cinema in Pakistan. It pays special attention to the horror film, tracing its fragmentary early history and development during the industry’s heyday in the 1960s through to its contemporary re‐emergence since the 1990s. It begins with a contextual sketch of ‘Lollywood’s’ early history and the crippling legacy of partition, highlighting the political and economic constraints faced by Pakistani film‐makers. The article then discusses the emergence of an impressive cinema culture in the 1960s and violence as a theme of Punjabi action films since the 1970s. Finally, the authors list the factors that led to the collapse of the Pakistani film industry in the 1980s, before moving on to an analysis of horror’s unlikely re‐emergence in Pashto cinema since the 1990s, with particular reference to Zibahkhana (Slaughterhouse, 2007), an isolated contemporary horror film made for consumption by local and foreign audiences.
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