This course is an overview of the trends, conventions, and strategies of three key Arab cinemas from the 1930s to the present day. Structured chronologically, the course will explore Arabic-language films using a variety of approaches (generic, industrial, formal, auteurist), while
studying them in their regional, national, and transnational contexts. Beginning with the commercial Egyptian film industry, we will examine the importance of the star system, genre, and other forms of entertainment (music hall, theater, and radio) to the “Hollywood on the Nile.” As the course transitions to more contemporary Lebanese and Palestinian films that travel the film festival circuit, our concerns will shift to the politics of transnational funding, questions of
distribution, and the impact of diaspora and exile on filmmaking practices. We will also consider how these Arabic-language films negotiate between popular entertainment, art, and politics throughout the course. Films may include Ahmed Badrakhan’s Fatma, Salah Abu Seif’s I am Free, Youssef Chahine’s Alexandria…Why?, Ziad Doueiri’s West Beirut, Elia Suleiman’s Divine Intervention, Nadine Labaki’s Caramel, Hany Abu-Assad’s Rana’s Wedding, Jackie Salloum’s Slingshot Hip Hop, Annemarie Jacir’s Salt of the Sea, and Rola Nashef’s Detroit Unleaded.
No prior knowledge of Arab cinemas is necessary.