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Courtisane Festival 2021

After last year’s cancellation, the Courtisane festival is finally able to take place and welcomes its spectators back. From 20 to 24 October, the city of Ghent once again forms the center stage for the renewed possibility of collective cinematic experience. The two focal points this year are the work of C.W. Winter & Anders Edström, whose film The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) will be shown on 23 October, and Sandra Lahire. This year’s program is also spearheaded by the long anticipated Out of the Shadows program, originally conceived for the edition of 2020. It brings together the work of Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, Assia Djebar, Jocelyne Saab and Heiny Srour and aims to revitalize their often overlooked and barely screened films. Last spring, Sabzian (together with Courtisane and KASK School of Arts) compiled an epynomous publication and online Dossier to complement these works, adding writing of Selma Baccar. The publication will be available for sale at this year’s Courtisane festival.

“All of us, all of us who come from the world of women in the shadows, are reversing the process: at last it is we who are looking, we who are making a beginning.”

– Assia Djebar


Coming from different backgrounds and regions, these filmmakers all started to produce films in the 1970s, at a moment of great political and cultural ferment. Often working against the grain, they set out to attend to voices and stories that were at risk of being drowned out by official History. While each of these filmmakers developed different approaches, their works explore shared themes such as memory and identity, oppression and liberation, violence and exclusion, and the social and political role of women in Arab societies and histories. Each of these filmmakers has been shaped by different traditions and realities, for the Arab woman filmmaker exists no more than the Arab woman. Accordingly, this programme seeks to follow Assia Djebar’s appeal “not to presume ‘to speak for’ or, even worse, to ‘speak on’, barely speak near to, and if possible, to speak right up against”. In order to explore in depth the singularities as well as the communal resonances of the distinct bodies of work in this program, a variety of guests have been invited to speak “right up against” the films.


You can find more information on the Courtisane website.