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The Role of Amazigh Cinema in Indigenous Film Practice: Imagining New Possibilities
Amazigh filmmaking can be considered a part of the larger indigenous film studies, which aims to give a voice to historically marginalized and oppressed peoples. Indigenous cinema seeks to decolonize and transform existing [hegemonic] structures (Schiwy 2009). It allows these mis- and under-represented communities to reclaim their identity and tell their stories through visual narratives. The Amazigh films subscribe to this process of decolonization by using the Amazigh dialects and highlighting cultural and historical aspects related to the Amazigh experiences. Amazigh film also raises questions of identity, agency, and representation facing Amazigh people in contemporary North African societies and the diaspora. The process of assimilation the Amazigh people experienced during the occupations of their lands contributed to the loss of several aspects of their cultural and linguistic heritage (Maddy-Weitzman 2011). Recognizing the importance of visual media, Amazigh filmmakers started using film to promote the Amazigh language, culture, and heritage and join the larger indigenous cinema movement. In the last thirty years, Amazigh cinema has gained greater recognition and visibility, with films such as The Forgotten Hill (1994) and, Adios Carmen (2013), Myopia (2020) to name but a few being screened at local and international film festivals. The emergence of Amazigh cinema and its momentum, especially after the 2011 revolutions, signals a significant shift toward the role Amazigh film could play in the larger scope of indigenous cinema and its contribution to this developing field of studies. My talk will focus on the convergences and divergences Amazigh film has with the global indigenous film experience concerning modes of production, aesthetics, and themes. I will also address the possibilities this cinema offers to decolonize the existing modes of representations.
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