publication NL FR EN
Out of the Shadows

On the occasion of the Out of the Shadows film programme at Courtisane Festival (October 20 – 24, 2021), the publication Out of the Shadows was intended to revitalize the work of five filmmakers whose films remain overlooked and barely screened: Atteyat Al-Abnoudy, Selma Baccar, Assia Djebar, Jocelyne Saab and Heiny Srour. Coming from different backgrounds and regions, these filmmakers all began 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 their own bold approaches to cinema, 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. This English publication – compiled, edited and published by Sabzian and Courtisane with the support of KASK & Conservatorium – brings together a selection of writings and interviews that speak “right up against” the films in the programme. The texts, most of which have been translated for the first time in English, are a testament to the women’s singular practices. They have been brought together here, right up against one another, in the hope of illuminating their rich and inspiring work and widening its reach and appreciation.

  • Introduction

    Stoffel Debuysere, Gerard-Jan Claes | 2020


  • A Woman, a Film, a Different Gaze

    Josie Fanon | 1977

  • A First Look

    Assia Djebar and Wassyla Tamzali | 1978

  • “I was looking for a musical language”

    Interview by Maryse Léon and Monique Martineau Hennebelle | 1979, 1981

  • Extract from Une éducation algérienne

    Wassyla Tamzali | 2007

  • Forbidden Gaze, Severed Sound

    Assia Djebar | 1979

  • The Zerda or the Maghreb in the 1930s

    Assia Djebar and Malek Alloula | 1979

  • The Singing of Oblivion

    Assia Djebar | 1982

  • A Woman’s Gaze

    Assia Djebar | 1989

  • My Need for Cinema

    Assia Djebar | 1994


  • “It’s up to women to lift the veil”

    Interview by Maryse Léon and Magda Wassef | 1978

  • “The public needs fiction, and several of us are moving in that direction”

    Interview by Gaston Haustrate and Corinne McMullin | 1982

  • “It is no longer a matter of taking a position”

    Interview by Sylvie Dallet | 1983

  • Documenting and Telling the Torments of the World

    Interview by Olivier Hadouchi | 2014

  • For Jocelyne

    Etel Adnan | 2014

  • Conversations with Etel Adnan and Jocelyne Saab

    Olivier Hadouchi | 2014

  • Letter from Algiers to a Friend from Beirut

    Wassyla Tamzali | 2014


  • The Hour of Liberation

    Interview by Guy Hennebelle and Monique Martineau Hennebelle | 1974

  • Woman, Arab and... Filmmaker

    Heiny Srour | 1976

  • “I hope and pray for a massive influx of women into all fields of the film industry”

    Interview by Magda Wassef | 1978

  • Before the Wolves

    John Akomfrah | 1983

  • The Other Half

    Interview by Manny Shirazi | 1985

  • Between Three Stools

    Heiny Srour | 1998

  • Dhofar for Memory

    Heiny Srour | 2008

  • “My loyalty is always with the oppressed. Whether in Africa, the Middle East or Vietnam”

    Interview by Olivier Hadouchi | 2020


  • Everyone Wears a Mask

    Interview by Jim Pines | 1973

  • “The only way for me as a filmmaker to express my feelings for them was to make a film”

    Interview by J.-F. Camus | 1973

  • Atteyat – the Egyptian

    Interview by Johanni Larjanko and Riitta Santala | 1991

  • “My mission: to depict Egypt. And my request: democracy”

    Interview by Samar Salman | 1991

  • Making Movies, Marking Time

    Diana Digges | 1998

  • Poetry of the Real

    Amina Hassan | 2007


  • For the Self-Expression of the Arab Woman

    Heiny Srour, Selma Baccar and Magda Wassef | 1978

  • “The men in the street were a little amused to see a woman giving orders”

    Magda Wassef | 1978

  • An Uncompromising View

    Interview by Wassyla Tamzali | 1979

  • “I made Fatma 75 because, despite everything, women are still not equal to men”

    Interview by Farida Ayari, Férid Boughedir and Guy Hennebelle | 1981

  • An Encounter with the Doyenne of Tunisian film, Selma Baccar

    Interview by Stefanie Van de Peer | 2010

Publication compiled by
Stoffel Debuysere and gerard-Jan Claes, in collaboration with Pieter-Paul Mortier and Pepa De Maesschalck

Marjolijn de Jager, Sis Matthé, Veva Leye, Reem Shilleh, Stoffel Debuysere

Copy editing
Rebecca Jane Arthur, Sis Matthé, Heiny Srour, Michel Euvrard, Richard Wagman, Suzanne Kallalá

Gunther Fobe

Printed by

Thanks to
Mai Abu ElDahab, Mireille Calle-Gruber, Sylvia Dallet, David Depestel, Marjolijn de Jager, Yasmin Desouki, Asmaa Yehia El-Taher, Olivier Hadouchi, Mary Jirmanus Saba, Lucien Logette, Natasha Marie Llorens, Monique Martineau Hennebelle, Colleen O’Shea, Mathilde Rouxel, Reem Shilleh, Heiny Srour, Wassyla Tamzali, Stephanie Van de Peer, Katrien Vuylsteke Vanfleteren, Magda Wassef, Mohanad Yaqubi, Debra Zimmerman, and many others without whom this publication would never have come to fruition.