Forgotten women, lost histories: Selma Baccar’s Fatma 75 (1978) and Assia Djebar’s La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua (1978)
Van de Peer, Stefanie
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Van de Peer, S. (2014) Forgotten women, lost histories: Selma Baccar’s Fatma 75 (1978) and Assia Djebar’s La Nouba des femmes du Mont Chenoua (1978). In: Bisschoff, L. & Murphy, D. (eds.) Africa's lost classics: new histories of African cinema. London: Routledge, pp. 62-70.
In 1978, two pioneering women's films from North Africa were released: Selma Baccar's Fatma 75 and Assia Djebar's La Nouba have a great deal in common thematically and formally, but differ in their approach to themes and form. In Tunisia, the 1970s was the decade of the amateur cine-clubs, and in Baccar's club, Hammam-Lif, four women regularly assisted one another on an artistic and idealistic level. La Nouba explores a new lyrical cinematic form, firmly rooted in Maghreb music and history. It is an investigation of women's experiences through their own voices and gazes. The film plays with flashbacks, interruptions of time, and a psychoanalytical approach to the memory and trauma of war. After independence, the first African films often served a commemorative purpose for the new nation: colonial and postcolonial memory needed to be addressed and analysed for the sake of a coherent national identity.