Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Egyptian Gazette :: Film in the Middle East and North Africa

Film in the Middle East
and North Africa
By Josef Gugler
Creative dissent
By Dorian Haqmoun - The Egyptian Gazette

CAIRO - How familiar are film lovers in the West with North African and Middle Eastern films? They probably know more about films from India, China and Japan and other art forms like music and literature from these regions.

This might change; Egypt was guest of honour at the Cannes Film Festival that just closed. Thanks to present and recent revolutions and uprisings in the area the world is becoming more aware of what goes on here.

It is possibly also a question of distribution; not everybody is as proactive as certain bearded preachers sitting in garishly decorated film studios, hell-bent on spreading their religion and the delights of its heaven all over the West.

Josef Gugler, the editor of Film in the Middle East and North Africa, Creative Dissidence, confirms my view. In his introduction ‘Creative Responses to conflict’, he writes: “Images and voices from the Middle East and the Maghreb are little seen and heard abroad.

As far as films are concerned, some are feted at film festivals, but only a few are shown in art houses and on select television channels, and home video distribution remains extremely limited.”

“The lack of public interest parallels a dearth of scholarly attention, with the notable exception of Iran and Israel. Not a single scholarly article has been devoted to many of the films featured in this volume.”

The volume in question is Film in the Middle East and North Africa, Creative Dissidence, published by the American University Press Cairo, 2011, and simultaneously by the University of Texas Press, US. The latter listed the table of content on its website ( and Google published excerpts from the book.

Josef Gugler, the editor, “is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, where he continues to teach on the cinemas of the Middle East and Africa.

A late convert to film studies, he is the author of African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent. He served as a member of the jury for long fiction films at Pan Africa International, Montreal, 2010.”

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