Guy Austin
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Berber cinema, historical and ahistorical
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In the Mzab region of the Algerian Sahara, 'women are never permitted to leave the oasis, although their husbands spend much of their time away from it'. Meanwhile the erosion of the state monopoly on the film industry allowed Berber cinema to finally develop. As Hadjadj's comments reveal, the production context for Berber cinema in the 1990s was hazardous, but contributed to a sense of mission that drove the film-makers. La Montagne de Baya historicises Berber struggle by placing it in the context of French colonial oppression and more specifically as a reaction to the confiscation of land from rebel tribes. If the cinema moudjahid of the 1960s and early 1970s falls short of this ideal, then the Berber cinema that finally appeared in Algeria in the 1990s seems to achieve it. It is folklore and popular memory which feed Berber cinema, speaking to its audience about themselves.

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