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Telling Another Story: Women’s Documentaries as Counter-Narration in Independent Algeria



This essay analyses seven documentaries made by Algerian and Franco-Algerian female directors as examples of counter-narration in the contemporary Algerian and French public spheres. After a brief introduction to the historical context of creating the official discourse, whether colonialist or nationalist, the study starts with an analysis of the documentaries (made between the 1970s and the 2010s), then briefly highlights their technical characteristics, contents, and purposes. In relation to their historical and political context of production and reception, the documentaries reveal the directors’ awareness of exclusion or marginalisation of their subjects as a pretext for the films’ realization. Therefore, they attempt to complete the official narration created by colonialism, nationalism, and patriarchy. More precisely, the documentaries try to deconstruct the public discourse and the mechanisms that make the mythological machine of official discourses so effective, introducing new languages, techniques, and meanings into the public sphere. Furthermore, documentaries are future-oriented, since they aim to collect and preserve the memories of crucial episodes of history, however painful and traumatic they might be, in order to be treasured for future generations. In addition, they often show examples of empowerment and agency that have been lost or eliminated over time. This analysis, which can be extended to a larger number of documentaries, directors, and subjects, aims to demonstrate that colonialist and nationalist public discourses have silenced alternative perspectives; however, the official narration
is increasingly being opposed through the representation of forgotten episodes and protagonists of history.

Keywords: women’s documentary, postcolonial Algeria, representation, counter-narration, memory, history

DOI: 10.24193/ekphrasis.25.9