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Algeria, 1982

Production : Radiodiffusion Télévision Algérienne (RTA)

Programmed by Federico Rossin

French, Arab

French, English, German



Based on colonial images, the Algerian woman of letters Assia Djebar composes here an essay in which the soundtrack offers a voice to Maghrebi men and women. Poems, cries of revolt and song, in Arabic and in French, accompany official history, bringing back to life the domination experienced by the people of North Africa.

Tënk's opinion

“The Zerda and the Songs of Forgetting” (1982) is one of the only films produced by the Algerian novelist Assia Djebar, along with ‘The Nubah of the Women of Mount Chenoua’ (1977). A forceful poetic essay based on archives, in which Assia Djebar - in collaboration with the poet Malek Alloula and the composer Ahmed Essyad - dismantles the French colonial propaganda broadcast through Pathé-Gaumont from 1912 to 1942, to unveil the signs of revolt among the subjected Maghrebi populations. By re-editing these propaganda images, Djebar revives the story of the Zerba ceremonies, suggesting that the power and the mysticism of this tradition were obliterated and erased by the predatory voyeurism of the colonial perspective. This same perspective is subverted and a hidden tradition of resistance and struggle is revived, against any temptation to exoticise or orientalise.

Federico Rossin
Cinema historian, independent programmer

Item 1 of 4
Item 1 of 4

Item 1 of 4