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.


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.