NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 136

Assia Djebar, Azzedine Meddour, Farouk Beloufafor ­ — a new approach… 134 Alienation, a recurrent theme With the development, then crumbling, of the dream, the theme of liberation war was neglected, or at least poorly treated during the seventies. Algerian cinema learned to live with alienation. Fiction increased with Omar Gatlato, made by Merzak Allouache in 1976, and the theme about the inability to communicate socially became a recurrent topic. Before the arrival of Nahla, by Beloufa, Omar Gatlato, was the third facet of young Algerian cinema, with the fourth one most definitely being represented by the magnificent Les enfants du vent [Children of the Wind, 1981] by Brahim Tsaki in 1981. The first film by Allouache marked a distinct break in the history of Algerian cinema. When young people speak of the revolution they see it as being a historical reference connected to their parents, while seeing themselves forever excluded from the sharing out of privileges. With their chauvinistic attitude and their utter frustration, it is hard not to see, in Omar’s gang, the reserve army of political Islamism that was to reveal itself in broad daylight at the beginning of the eighties. In Les enfants du vent, another film with no dialogue, one can sense, by their attitudes, the children’s fear BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 134 concerning their future. In 1983, in Histoire d’une rencontre [Story of an Encounter, 1983], Brahim Tsaki revisited the theme of alienation and lack of communication, portraying the story of platonic love between two deaf and dumb adolescents, the boy, Algerian, and the girl, American, against a backdrop of hydrocarbons in a base at Arzew. Ghaouti Bendedouche also deals with this theme of the anonymous hero in Moisson d’acier [Harvest of Steel, 1983]. In this film, the colonial past continues to kill. Many years after Independence, mines laid by the French make it impossible to forget the former oppression. Moisson d’acier tackles this fact of history. For his part, Mahmoud Zemmouri tried in his comedy, Les folles années du twist [The Crazy Years of Twist, 1986], to describe the daily life of Algerian teenagers during the war of liberation. Zemmouri claims that the reticence met by his film was purely due to the use he made of comedy in the context of popular struggle. Even so, in 1968, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina also chose laughter to recount Hassan Terro and his frights. There exists another approach to historical exploration and reflection: the one used in archival films. Normally speaking, this form of expression does not leave room for fiction, since it is based on first-hand historical evidence. However, a film like Azzedine Meddour’s Combien je