Re: [Videolib] Arabic/Egyptian films-

Gary Daniels (Gary@interruptProductions.com)
Thu, 04 Aug 2005 01:31:56 -0400

I would agree, I've seen many great films from the middle east. But as
you eloquently explained, the "truth" in these films exists at a much
deeper level than the surface. Censors tend to be not so bright,
superficial people, so they tend to censor things only on the surface.
Any clever artist can always get his ideas past this type of censorship.
But both you and I are film fans and have probably taken many film
studies courses. The average high school kid or college freshman is like
the censor: his first experience with a foreign film will be a
superficial experience. It's very good to remind them the circumstances
the director was working under. Just as it's very good to remind
students that husbands and wives really didn't sleep in separate beds
during the 50's.....that was only in the movies-- a requirement of the
censor.

Once you know the reality, a deeper truth emerges. And that's my point.
But most average people DO think the films of the 40's & 50's represent
the way America used to be....i.e., "the good ole days." But in reality,
those days never existed. Ever read the book "The Way We Never Were"?
These censorship rules have completely colored our view of our OWN
past...so much so that the average person actually thinks they represent
reality.

But revealing to your students the rules under which those films were
made will reveal a deeper reality about America during that time period.
I suggest the same is true of modern Arab films. What cannot be shown
(and why it cannot be shown) is often more revealing of "truth" than the
actual pictures on the screen. But we can't just expect high school kids
or college kids to see this deeply into a film without a little
background. And we can't expect every social studies teacher to be a
film scholar and know the intricacies of censorship rules in Muslim
countries. So that's why I wanted to offer this "heads up" for those
unfamiliar with these things. Knowledge is power.

-gary daniels

John Sinno wrote:

>As a distributor of films from and about the Middle East & North Africa, I would like to point out that there are thousands of wonderful films from Arab/Muslim countries that provide vivid and truthful representations of what daily life is like for people living in that part of the world.
>
>While it's true that government censors keep a close watch over film production in many Arab and Muslim countries, censorship rules are different in each country, so one must be careful not to generalize. Arab directors such as Yousef Chahine, Atef Hetata, Yousry Nasrallah, Nouri Bouzid and Nabil Ayouch (to name just a few) have found ways to subvert film production censorship rules to examine complex topics such as religion, sexuality, gender issues, poverty and government bureaucracy. Iranian filmmakers such as Abbas Kiarostami, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Tahmineh Milani and Mijid Mijidi have, in recent years, created some of the masterpieces of world cinema while filming under the restrictions enforced by their government.
>
>Even when Arab filmmakers aren't challenging censorship rules, their films provide truthful representations of daily life in the Arab world. To suggest otherwise is like saying that, because of the restrictions set by the Hollywood Production Code (1934-1967), American films from the 1940s and '50s don't provide truthful representations of American life during that era.
>
>
>Alex Williams
>Arab Film Distribution
>www.arabfilm.com
>alex@arabfilm.com
>
>
>
>FROM: Gary Daniels <Gary@interruptProductions.com>
>TO: videolib@library.berkeley.edu
>DATE: Wed, 03 Aug 2005 17:26:14 -0400
>
>SUBJECT: Re: [Videolib] Arabic/Egyptian films-
>
>As a filmmaker, I would like to point out the fact that all films shot
>in the Middle East (and all Muslim countries, in fact) are subject to
>heavy censorship and government approval. All scripts pass through a
>government censor and government officials travel with the film crew and
>monitor everything they do. The final edited video must also pass
>through the government censors. Thus, if you show films from this
>region, you should always remind your students that they are not
>watching a completely truthful representation. They are only seeing what
>the government of the country represented wants the world to see.
>
>I wrote two research papers on this topic-- one covering censorship in
>Egypt and another in Malaysia. You can read them at this link if you
>want to know the reality of what you're showing your students:
>
>http://www.GaryCDaniels.com/academic.html
>
>-gary
>
>
>
>Andrea Traubner wrote:
>
>
>
>>Filmakers Library has a large collection of films on the Middle East.
>>They are listed on our web site http://www.filmakers.com in the
>>index under Middle East Studies. If there is a particular interest in
>>films on Egypt, please look at UP AT DAWN (about child labor in Egypt)
>>http://www.filmakers.com/indivs/UpAtDawn.htm and EGYPT: TO LIVE WITH
>>THE DIFFERENCES which is part of the Women in the Arab World series
>>http://www.filmakers.com/indivs/WomenArabWorld.htm.
>>
>>Sue Oscar
>>Filmakers Library, Inc.
>>124 E. 40th Street
>>Suite 901
>>New York, NY 10016
>>Phone:212-808-4980
>>Fax:212-808-4983
>>info@filmakers.com
>>www.filmakers.com
>>
>> On Tuesday, August 2, 2005, at 01:27 PM, Mary Lou Neighbour wrote:
>>
>> Hello, all!
>>
>> I am writing to ask the collective wisdom of this list for
>> titles of fairly current cinematic films from Arab countries
>> which show daily life. We have a history professor who is
>> interested in making them available to his students so that
>> they can appreciate the cultures of the Middle East. He is
>> particularly interested in films from Egypt. Any suggestions
>> would be most welcome.
>>
>> Mary Lou Neighbour
>> AV Librarian
>> Montgomery County Community College
>> 340 De Kalb Pike
>> Blue Bell, PA 19422
>> mneighbo@mc3.edu
>>
>>
>>
>>
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