← Part of the Issue: Selma Baccar

For the Self-Expression of the Arab Woman

There are numerous obstacles which limit the self-expression of the Arab woman, among them:

A feudal culture now fused with a bourgeois culture which represents the woman as a sexual object and an inferior, immature being. This image is reproduced through all means of expression, including progressive ones. In this way the woman is conditioned from birth and prepared for a subordinate role. As a result, she loses confidence in herself and society fails to help her develop her intellectual capacities.

The economic dependence of the woman, trapped at the bottom of the professional ladder, further interferes with her intellectual development.

The legal social status of the Arab woman reinforces this state of dependence; family pressures are followed by marital pressures.

In such conditions it is not surprising how few Arab women have succeeded at realizing themselves through the cinema. The few films which they have made have been produced under very difficult circumstances. Producers are doubly hesitant when it comes to entrusting millions of dollars to a woman. The difficulties faced by a woman who has decided to express herself through image and sound can be enormous, especially if she is working on her first film.

Given this situation, the three of us – a filmmaker, a critic and a technician in the Arab cinema – have decided to establish an “Assistance Fund” for the self-expression of the Arab woman in the cinema. A yearly prize of 10,000 ff (about $2500) will be awarded to the best script for a short film from those proposals submitted by Arab women undertaking their first film. The prize money will be raised by donations from all those who support women’s right of self-expression.

Contributions can be sent to Magda Wassef, 32 rue Lecourbe, 75015 Paris, France.

Originally published as ‘Pour l’auto-expression de la femme arabe’ in CinemArabe, 10/11 (August/November 1978). Published in English in Cineaste, 9, no. 4 (1979).

In Passage, Sabzian invites film critics, authors, filmmakers and spectators to send a text or fragment on cinema that left a lasting impression.
Pour Passage, Sabzian demande à des critiques de cinéma, auteurs, cinéastes et spectateurs un texte ou un fragment qui les a marqués.
In Passage vraagt Sabzian filmcritici, auteurs, filmmakers en toeschouwers naar een tekst of een fragment dat ooit een blijvende indruk op hen achterliet.
The Prisma section is a series of short reflections on cinema. A Prisma always has the same length – exactly 2000 characters – and is accompanied by one image. It is a short-distance exercise, a miniature text in which one detail or element is refracted into the spectrum of a larger idea or observation.
La rubrique Prisma est une série de courtes réflexions sur le cinéma. Tous les Prisma ont la même longueur – exactement 2000 caractères – et sont accompagnés d'une seule image. Exercices à courte distance, les Prisma consistent en un texte miniature dans lequel un détail ou élément se détache du spectre d'une penséée ou observation plus large.
De Prisma-rubriek is een reeks korte reflecties over cinema. Een Prisma heeft altijd dezelfde lengte – precies 2000 tekens – en wordt begeleid door één beeld. Een Prisma is een oefening op de korte afstand, een miniatuurtekst waarin één detail of element in het spectrum van een grotere gedachte of observatie breekt.