Pioneers, Divas, Visionaries – The Women of Arab Cinema
at Meno Avilys / Lituania, 2022 and at the International Women's Film Festival Dortmund/Germany, 2023
Tunis, 21 December 1922. One hundred years ago, the first film with an entirely Arab and African cast and crew premiered on the North African coast. The script for the 35-minute silent movie Zohra was written by the just 16-year-old Haydée Samama Chikly, who also played the lead role and edited the film. It was produced, directed and shot by her father Albert Samama Chikly. In 1924, daughter and father worked together again to produce a longer film, followed by the first long feature film in Egypt Laila in 1927, paving the way for »Hollywood on the Nile«. The film was produced by 26-year-old Aziza Amir, who also portrayed the eponymous heroine. Since then, women have played a key role in Arab cinema. They have produced films, adopted the star system, taken their cameras to the battle zones of too many wars, set up cinema theatres and festivals, told history and presented their visions for the future. This richly illustrated lecture offers an overview of Arab film history, told through their women.