Films byTexts by Sis Matthé
Article EN
21.07.2021
Amina Hassan 2007
Translated by

Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, a pioneer of documentary filmmaking, has been making the voices of the poor heard since the 1970s. We meet her when the first Women’s Film Festival is paying tribute to her. (...) Some call her “the poet of the documentary”. Others criticize her for portraying the poor, the bratty children, the run-down places and the abject sides of reality. Likewise, Egyptian television, the only means of broadcasting her work, asks her to disclaim her inventories of misery in order to benefit from funding. She retorts to her detractors: “You must know how to reveal reality with its dark and luminous sides, without hiding an admiration for the total commitment of the beings whose lives meet History.”

Conversation EN
21.07.2021
J.-F. Camus 1973
Translated by

Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, a young Egyptian filmmaker, has won the Grand Prix du film documentaire in Grenoble and the International Federation of Film Critics prize for Horse of Mud. And for her film The Sad Song of Touha, she has won the Novais Teixeira prize: a prize founded in memory of our colleague who died last year and who was much loved by French critics. We met Atteyat Al-Abnoudy before she was awarded these important prizes, important for the direction she wishes to give to her work. Al-Abnoudy: “When I start a film, I don’t think about its form. When I became friends with the people in the factory, the only way for me as a filmmaker to express my feelings for them was to make a film.”

Conversation NL EN
7.07.2021

In ‘Een kijker onder de anderen’ laten Herman Asselberghs en Gerard-Jan Claes via e-mail allerlei gepassioneerde filmliefhebbers uitvoerig aan het woord over hun kijkpraktijk. Filmmakers, kunstenaars, critici, onderzoekers, auteurs, programmatoren, bioscoopbezoekers, tv-fanaten, netflixers, youtubers, torrentgebruikers,… Na de eerste aflevering met Herman Asselberghs zetten we de reeks voort met Rebecca Jane Arthur, een Schotse beeldend kunstenares die in Brussel woont. Naast haar artistieke praktijk werkt Arthur als producent, schrijver, copy-editor en vertaler. Ze is ook medeoprichter van elephy, een productie- en distributieplatform voor film- en mediakunst gevestigd in Brussel.

Conversation NL EN
23.06.2021

De Portugese filmmaker Pedro Costa maakte zijn eerste film Blood in 1989. In 1994 volgde het in Kaapverdië gefilmde Down to Earth. Costa kwam terug van het eiland met pakjes en brieven van Kaapverdianen voor hun familieleden en vrienden die naar Portugal waren geëmigreerd. Zijn taak als postbode bracht hem naar de wijk Fontainhas in Lissabon, waar veel migranten woonden. Na het eerste contact met de bewoners van de wijk ging Costa verschillende keren terug en in 1997 filmde hij er Ossos, de eerste van een reeks films met de bewoners van Fontainhas. Pedro Costa: “Fontainhas is inderdaad het gevolg van iets, van de fabrieken hier, van mensen die van een of ander Noord-Schots dorp naar Sheffield verhuisden. Daar gaat het over.”

Conversation EN
19.05.2021

“The International Women’s Year provided me with the opportunity to make it [Fatma 75]. I figured that, for the first Tunisian film entirely devoted to this subject, I must not resort to fiction but make an analytical work. Through this film, I set about demystifying what is called ‘the miracle of Tunisian women’s emancipation’.”

Conversation EN
19.05.2021

Selma Baccar’s film opens with a series of portraits of women who have marked the history of Tunisia through the ages. In a theatrical way, Sophonisba, Kahina, Jelajil, and Aziza present themselves to us as the predecessors, through their courageous actions, of this young girl, Fatma, in 1975.

Conversation
19.05.2021
Magda Wassef 1978
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Fatma 75’s approach is quite original. The film is based on essays and histories written on the Tunisian feminist movement, using fiction to make its message accessible to the general public. Selma baccar: “As for my experience as a woman director, I think it was very important for me. My relationship with the crew and the actors was excellent. The shooting of Fatma 75 was “all roses”. On the other hand, in order to obtain the necessary funding for the production of the film, I felt a great mistrust from some of the people in charge, although I had a special card up my sleeve: a film about women made by a woman. But the problem of film production in Tunisia is the same for men and women: it’s negative for both of them.”

Conversation NL EN
12.05.2021

“It’s much more enjoyable to watch theatre than to make theatre, and it is much more enjoyable to make films than to watch a film, because film is a much more evolved medium when it comes to the material you are interpreting. Imagine to simply steal someone’s face, their appearance, capturing it at the angle you’re most attracted to, where it moves you, and to try to piece together all that you’ve stolen afterwards during the editing; that you can then fabricate something very moving.”

Article NL EN
12.05.2021

It is an intriguing film because of its original position in the field of Flemish film production. This is not some attempt at a standard technical finish that’s devoid of aesthetic politics. It is a clearly defined boundary, an emphatic style within which the entire film must develop. This is an unusual (almost suicidal) road for a young (Flemish) filmmaker. His colleagues are out to make attractive films that people will consider solid and professionally made. Films that are able to attract official subsidies, but only lead the public to believe that “we” might one day be able to make one too. 

Article NL EN
12.05.2021

“It’s a sort of acrobatic distance, here in Hedda Gabler, that makes you hold your breath in suspense (the acting is wonderful!) until it should be released by laughter. There’s a spluttering retelling of a wildly unlikely story, a kooky imitation of melodramatic conflicts, a travesty of critical unriddling, offering this extremely slow, calm countercurrent full of rapids and waterfalls.”

Conversation EN
28.04.2021

“But I’m going to reveal a military secret to you that I haven’t revealed to anyone else, because the Tricontinental is as dear to you as it is to me. Thus, your interview will not be like others. People wonder why Heiny Srour has always been a pioneer, a groundbreaker, both in substance and form, why she has always gone off the beaten track. Why, in all of Arab cinema, was she the first to shoot in Dhofar and, also, to go to Vietnam? Why has she been innovative in various domains? The reason is that I was fortunate enough to be born in Lebanon, part of an ultra-minority, unrepresented in Parliament. That immediately offers you a wide-angle view of the world, which the Anglo-Saxons call ‘strategic thinking’.”

Article EN
28.04.2021
Heiny Srour 1998
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All this to explain why I have compulsively found myself making films that are so much more difficult to make than those of my male colleagues.

Article EN
28.04.2021
Magda Wassef 1978
Translated by

Certainly, The Hour of Liberation has arrived. But what kind of liberation is it? Heiny Srour not only understands it in the political sense of the term, but in a more absolute sense. The liberation of Arab women is at the heart of this film, which has, unfortunately, hardly been screened in our countries. The difficulties encountered during and after the shoot of the film need to be addressed. They give you an idea of what a woman has to face when she decides not to give in and to push her project to the limit...

Article EN
28.04.2021
Heiny Srour 1976
Translated by

Woman, Arab and... filmmaker. A viable situation? If so, some questions: Is there even one Arab filmmaker who has provoked an explosion of scorn for asserting in front of Marxist militants – don’t laugh – his desire to become a filmmaker? Is there even one Arab filmmaker who was forced to hide from his family that he wanted to make films? Is there even one Arab filmmaker who was called mad by X number of producers for having dared to propose to go and film a guerrilla war? Is there even one Arab filmmaker who has been told from the cradle that he fundamentally wasn’t a “creative” being? To inspire the works of others, fair enough! To write novels dealing with “feminine” subjects is allowed, but barely so (and reluctantly, by the way). But to take the camera in order to talk about human dignity (especially when insisting on women’s liberation), about national dignity? Oh, no, lady! That’s men’s business.

Conversation EN
28.04.2021

The Hour of Liberation is, therefore, a partisan film at all levels. In terms of the montage as well: you can’t place images filmed on both sides of the fence in any order, and tell the viewer to choose sides; that would put oppression and freedom, injustice and justice on the same level. The film is constructed on a structure that rejects the bourgeois conception of ‘objectivity’: it clearly takes sides, without necessarily hiding the difficulties of the struggle, without hiding the contradictions, without ultimately lapsing into triumphalism. The entire montage is conceived to produce an analysis of what a people’s war is.”

Article NL EN
21.04.2021

Een jaar later, toen de Duitsers de oorlog hadden verloren en de concentratiekampen waren bevrijd, fotografeerden en filmden de geallieerden de complexen, de overlevenden en de sporen die wezen op miljoenen vermoorde mensen. Vooral de beelden van stapels schoenen, brillen en kunstgebitten en de bergen afgeschoren haar maakten een diepe indruk. Misschien moeten er eerst beelden zijn vooraleer iets wat nauwelijks voorstelbaar is indruk maakt, fotografische beelden, afdrukken van de werkelijkheid op afstand.

Article NL FR
14.04.2021

De surrealisten van het eerste uur, nog vaag vervuld van een dadaïstische geestesgesteldheid, zetten alle zeilen bij en mengden vrolijk disciplines door elkaar om het publiek te verbluffen. Terwijl hun geschriften, theater, muziek en schilderkunst al gauw floreerden, bleef het gebruik van film lange tijd een moeizamere kwestie, in België nog meer dan elders.

Article NL FR
14.04.2021
Henri Storck 1951
Vertaald door

“De mijnwerkers komen uit de mijnschacht tevoorschijn. Ze gaan de straat op, hun gezichten zwart, leerkartonnen helmen op hun hoofd, brandende lampen in hun handen, in dichte rijen die de hele breedte van de straat innemen. Ze naderen met rasse schreden, neuriën een zacht en krachtig gefluisterd lied, voorafgegaan door een zwarte stofwolk.”

Conversation EN
7.04.2021

“I began by making film reports, documentaries, and I didn’t come to fiction until much later. The boundaries between the two aren’t very clear-cut, however, and there are often documentary elements in fiction films and vice versa. At the time, there was a fabulous reporting tradition, with film crews in conflict zones that didn’t hesitate to take risks and demonstrate a certain situation by bringing us the footage. Resorting to cinema, especially to documentaries, in order to provoke or accompany social change, to denounce or to provide a basis for action, all this was very much present when I started.”

Conversation EN
7.04.2021

“Each time I made a film, it was in a given political period; each time I had a political objective, my films couldn’t just be without orientation. That’s not sentimentality. Through a form of sensibility, a political problem emerges. The destruction of Beirut, the children fighting, it means something. I figured this way of showing things could touch people and have a real political impact. People are fed up with the talking. On television, for example, one day they show a representative of the left, the next a representative of the right. Every day, they agree with someone else, and they end up forgetting who’s right or wrong!”

Correspondence EN
7.04.2021

There are encounters that withstand long separations because they happened at a particular time. That goes for you, who I lost sight of for a long time, and who I met in the liveliest days of our lives. Are there lives outside of lively days? Alas, yes. Many years later, we ran into each other and caught up in the queue for a plane from Paris to Cairo, and then in Alexandria we met again, and... since then, we met again where we had parted, in the intimacy of History, the Tunisian revolution had just broken out and our hearts were cheerful.

Conversation EN
7.04.2021

“They no longer allowed us to express ourselves. There was no freedom anymore. At the time, I didn’t fully understand that I was scaring them because I didn’t realize the impact of my work. With my documentaries and my different way of looking at things, I managed to reach European and American television channels. They were afraid my images would shake the public opinion and dismantle their propaganda.”

Conversation EN
7.04.2021

“Today, nine years later, I say to myself: “It’s no longer a matter of taking a position.” That’s where my films are headed and that’s what brings me to fiction. I think I’m meeting my time, the wave of complete scepticism, of doubt, which means that in the fiction to come I have completely abandoned any political point of view – even if everything is political. Even if there is no doubt that there has been a political position. The desire I had to be on TV, to reach a lot of people, meant that my work was concerned with the imagery, which was much more powerful than militant film.”

Conversation EN
7.04.2021

“This documentary phase wasn’t only linked to my personal history; it was determined by my country’s political situation and Lebanon’s cinema history. My trajectory is a bit like that of other Lebanese filmmakers. If I decided to move to fiction it’s because, after speaking in a “militant” manner, I now want the image to speak as much as possible.”

Article EN
31.03.2021
Josie Fanon 1977
Translated by

What does it mean to make a film when you are a woman, an Algerian, a novelist (writing in French) and you decide to make it in your own country, for the people of that country, with the widest distribution possible, as it is a film for television?

Article EN
31.03.2021
Assia Djebar 1989
Translated by

Can it be simply by chance that most films created by women give as much importance to sound, to music, to the timbre of voices recorded or captured unawares, as they do to the image itself? It is as though the screen had to be approached cautiously and be peopled, if need be, with images seen through a look, even a short-sighted, hazy look, but borne on a full, commanding voice, hard as stone but fragile and rich as the human heart.

Article EN
31.03.2021
Assia Djebar 1982
Translated by

To give a rhythm to the images of reality for twenty years of everyday life in the Maghreb, where each of the three countries has paid its death toll to obtain its independence. This work, which should be a simple “historical” visualization, I approach as a mined area. I apprehend it as an explosive that awakens from my past, from any past, the engulfed pains we believe to be rotten or defeated, I don’t know. They come alive again, they dress again as faceless ghosts, but veiled, as if they suddenly demanded the unfolding of a purifying liturgy.

Article EN
31.03.2021

Assia Djebar’s treatment for La Zerda et les chants de l’oubli [The Zerda or the Songs of Oblivion] (1978-1982): “Without any comment, however, shortly before and during the credits, three known paintings by Delacroix unfold in long shots and in slow pan shots that focus on details of characters, horses or costume elements, each of the paintings linked to an atmosphere of music and fantasia from the pre-colonial Maghreb.”

Article EN
31.03.2021

So your film is more a film about space than about women?

Yes, because saying that my film is a film about women doesn’t mean anything. I’ll always make these films... Female bodies, women are my subject. Like a sculptor somehow, who uses a certain material, while another sculptor will use another material. That should mean something, shouldn’t it? I think that’s what the Cinémathèque audience couldn’t stand; I’ve removed men from my film. But what can I say, except that I’ve just shown what exists in reality. I intentionally separated the sexes in the image, as in reality. The intention is feminist, and why not? I wanted to show the number one problem of Algerian women, which is the right to space. Because I was able to verify that the more space the women had, the firmer they stood.

Conversation FR EN
17.03.2021

“[Fertile Memory] is the result of several years of work. I made several reports in the occupied territories, but I also have to say that the film was beyond me. The Palestinian question is basically an issue of oppression: an oppression that dominates the world. I said to myself that I would be able to give the Palestinian question a new dimension by talking about the most oppressed. I thought that women would help bring out all the contradictions.”

Article FR EN
17.03.2021

The source that irrigates Fertile Memory springs from two poles that constitute the foundations and permanence of the Palestinian soul: usurped land and women. Few films show daily life in the physical and temporal reality (32 years for Mrs Farah Hatoum) of the Israeli occupation. And if these films exist, their lack of credibility is such that at best, we make do with imagining the thoughts behind the gestures and gazes – the deepest dimension of which only the prism of culture will render.

Conversation FR EN
10.03.2021

“There’s something crazy about editing. The little I learned about film technique and the manipulation of forms comes from editing really. Because I had to edit everything myself; I couldn’t afford an editor – and I didn’t want one anyway. I was too – what word do they use nowadays? – “invested”. Funny word.”

Article FR EN
10.03.2021
Boris Lehman 1990
Translated by

“Nothing can fix the finite which lies between the two infinities that enclose and flee from it.” This formula by Pascal may very well apply to the films of Edmond Bernhard, the most brilliant filmmaker Belgium has ever known. His entire oeuvre essentially consists of five short films made between 1954 and 1972, less than two hours of screening time in total: Lumière des hommes (1954), Waterloo (1957), Belœil, ou Promenade au château de Belœil (1958), Dimanche (1963) and Échecs (1972).

Article NL EN
10.03.2021
Henri Storck 1995
Translated by

With nimble-fingered virtuosity, he operated an array of objects arranged around his piano: fake pistols for crime-of-passion gunshots, castanets to imitate the sound of horses’ hooves, grains of lead sliding over a canvas for the sound of waves, buckets of water and sponges for the sound of raindrops. From high up in my little room across the street, I could hear the sounds of the piano, which allowed me to understand what kind of film it was: a farce, a bourgeois drama, a romantic comedy, or even a violent storm at sea or bolting horses at a gallop.

Article NL EN
24.02.2021

Herman Asselberghs is currently working on a long-term film project at the film department of the LUCA School of Arts, where he has been teaching for two decades. Through the realization of a film essay, he probes the relationship between attention and distraction in the film theatre and the classroom. Throughout the creation process, Sabzian reports on his accompanying reading and writing. On a regular basis, Asselberghs selects an existing text that interests him and that he himself provides with an accompanying text. In this second instalment, he probes possible overlaps between teaching and film-watching by means of Berichten uit een klas [Reports from a Classroom], Objectieve Melancholie [Objective Melancholy] and other key essays by the Belgian critic Dirk Lauwaert. He also reminisces about Lauwaert’s overlooked Filmparties.

Conversation FR EN
17.02.2021

“I already knew that you can’t just make a film overnight with people who aren’t actors. Especially when you want to make a feature film. And there I was, plunging into a spoken feature-length film. Some friends had told me, “Be careful!” I responded, “Damn it! Flaherty made Nanook, and he made Moana!” “Ah yes, okay, but that’s silent film! You, your peasants, when they open their mouths, you’ll see, it’ll be a catastrophe.” I hung on all the same. Of course, you can’t make them play Le Cid or Hamlet... You have to make them play something that’s closer to their hearts.”

Article FR EN
17.02.2021

The film was barely finished, and the “Farrebique affair” began – the selection committee of the first Cannes Film Festival eliminated the film from the competition […]. “That Farrebique will not be going to Cannes is an outright scandal,” Maurice Bessy declared [...]. “Although some reservations could be made about the arbitrary conception of the subject,” wrote Georges Sadoul, “Farrebique clearly had its place at the festival, whereas the particularly incontinent logorrhea of A Lover’s Return should have been refused even a back seat.” But the screenwriter of this last film, Henri Jeanson, was the very committee member who fought for the rejection of Farrebique, although he denies that: “Farrebique was not presented to us for approval. I am, admittedly, one of those who find this film boring. I don’t consider cow dung to be photogenic material. I agree that I may be wrong, but I protest against those who claim in bad faith that Farrebique was rejected.”

Article NL FR EN
17.02.2021
André Bazin 1947
Translated by

There’s no lack of so-called realist films, whether they are news stories or slices of life. There’s not even a lack of peasant films. Why is Farrebique the odd one out? That’s where, for me, Rouquier’s genius comes in, his egg of Columbus. He understood that verisimilitude had gradually taken the place of truth, that reality dissolves in realism. He painstakingly set out to discover it, to bring it back to light, to bring it up naked from the well of art.

Article NL EN
10.02.2021

TV-programme producers occasionally try to make their works available for repeated viewing in addition to one-off screenings. As is the case with Voyage à Paris, which is like a beautiful poem you want to read several times, or a piece of music you want to hear several times. This visual essay contains a couple of passages you will remember especially well, transitions that are so intriguing that you will want to further savour them. 

Article EN
10.02.2021

As part of its 1971–1972 programme, the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven has planned an exhibition on the street as a form of visual environment. The museum thus becomes part of an international trend that manifests a renewed interest in the street as a living environment.

Article EN
20.01.2021

Shadi Abdel Salam carried two cultures within him: he was born and raised in Alexandria, and his mother and maternal ancestors came from Al-Minieh. He travelled in two worlds: that of the cosmopolitan city of Alexandria and its rich Hellenic heritage, and that of Al-Minieh, the pearl of Upper Egypt, imbued with traditions and customs drawing their rigidity from distant pharaonic origins. Although he looked like a noble cavalier, with matching gentleman-like qualities, fluent in English, French and Italian, he always remained that austere son of Upper Egypt, linked to his ancestors who lie inside the tombs dug into the hills of Thebes by a very long history.

Article EN
20.01.2021

On 16 December 1969, The Mummy was shown for the first time to the audience of the Cairo Film Club, which included many intellectuals. In the dark, Shadi Abdel Salam waited for the reaction of his family and friends to this new work of art. All were moved by the film’s sober technique and by its theme, which was deeply touching for Egyptians: a sacred theme presented in a new form – the language of film – and accompanied by the sincerity that’s in harmony with this people.

Article NL FR EN
13.01.2021
Boris Lehman 1995
Translated by

“My films are like fables, and reality is their backdrop. They imitate the simple form of a diary, they are autobiographical, since they often deal with a quest for identity and a search for origins, and I often appear in them as a subject and as a character.”

Article EN
6.01.2021

Film is (and this is my fundamental assumption) not art in the bourgeois-humanist sense of the word. It is an industry and a very important part of the so-called culture industry at that. Those who switch from the category of art to the category of culture industry ultimately make a political-ideological choice, the consequences of which can hardly be overrated.

Article NL FR
2.12.2020
Boris Lehman 1980
Vertaald door

Brussel-transit is ontegenzeglijk een autobiografisch verhaal. Niet helemaal documentair, noch helemaal fictief, niet helemaal het heden, noch helemaal een reconstructie neemt de film zowat al die vormen aan, maar ook iets ondefinieerbaars en ongrijpbaars dat met de herinnering te maken heeft. 

Article NL FR
2.12.2020
Boris Lehman 1999
Vertaald door

Bruxelles-transit is grotendeels autobiografisch en begint als een quasi-documentaire film waarin de acteurs (of actants) niet meer dan silhouetten zijn die in het zwart-witte (meer zwarte dan witte) stationslandschap zijn geplaatst, de plaats of non-plaats bij uitstek van de oorsprong van reizen en ballingschap, van de hier zo symbolische transit uit het verhaal van Samy’s ouders, die uit Polen kwamen met een visum voor Costa Rica. 

Article NL FR EN
28.10.2020
André Bazin 1951
Translated by

André Bazin is sometimes called “the inventor of film criticism”. Entire generations of film critics and filmmakers, especially those associated with the Nouvelle Vague, are indebted to his writings on film. Film opens a “window on the world”, according to Bazin. His writings would also be important for the development of the auteur theory. Bazin: “Jean Renoir was unquestionably our greatest director. The past tense that has just flown out of my pen here does not mean – thank God! – that Renoir has passed away, only that he is no longer ours.”

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