Just as every other country around the world has come through it’s right of passage within cinema, the time has come in which the Arab world has finally caught up. Undermining fallen leaders and accessing new means of expression has sprung countries such as Egypt and Tunisia into the realm of introspection within their uprisings. No longer is Arab cinema just a means in which entertainment can be shared, but a weapon in which the reality of everyday life is exposed and dispersed internationally. With the aid of financing, the fall of censorship and the rise of a united people, the Arab New Wave is making history. The aftermath of the Arab Spring has fully enabled the country of Tunisia to express and retell the events leading up to and within the uprisings while also creating a whole new form of cinema.
The oppression of the now-former Tunisian government brought forth a sweeping change within the movie making world. Major themes and settings of the films were set within the stories of those who had inspired revolutionary change rather than give screen time to the ever-looming politicians and state officials. It focused on socio-economic issues, like poverty and gender equality while making sure to keep their national identity and morals present while removing the bigger-than-life Hollywood aspect of aesthetics. The progressive nature of filmmaking pushes the present Tunisian society to face new social issues and start a conversation of how sexuality, women and a lack of censorship fit into their reborn nation. In terms of distributing such films after production, social media continues to develop and create new ways for low or no budgets to make their way to the surface of the internet and get recognition.
Search of Self-Definition: Arab and African Films at the Carthage Film Festival (Tunis) was an excellent source as it brought information to the table as to the social issues that were discussed with films coming from Tunisia and the double edged sword of getting recognition for films with controversial progressive material. Al Jazeera’s Exploring the Arab world’s challenges through film delves into the reality of film production before, during and after the revolution and the restrictions that filmmakers face when creating a cinematic piece in a rocky political environment. It provides specifics as to the adaptation that writers, directors and cinematographers face when sources of funds, censorship and current events suddenly change. Hürriyet Daily News reports about the documentaries that show the viewpoint of the people, ordinary bystanders in the midst of a revolution that State media and other gatekeepers hide from prying international eyes.
Bachmann, Gideon. “In Search of Self-Definition: Arab and African Films at the Carthage Film Festival (Tunis).” Film Quarterly 26, no. 3 (1973): 48-51.
Bishara, Motez. “Exploring the Arab World’s Challenges through Film.” – Al Jazeera English. December 12, 2015. Accessed October 31, 2016. aljazeera.com
Güler, Emrah. “Latest in a String of Films on Arab Spring:’The Square’.” Hürriyet Daily News. March 3, 2014. Accessed October 31, 2016. hurriyetdailynews.com
Student Author: Erin Bailey is currently a third year student at Champlain College with a major in Filmmaking.
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams, Ph.D., Champlain College Faculty Advisor