Algeria Theater

Algeria Theater and Cinema

Acording to a2zdirectory, this African country occupies the vast central-eastern section of the Maghreb and it is therefore, in its cultural matrices, a Mediterranean and Islamic country. The Algerian national idea dates back to the time when the country opposed the Ottoman rule, in the 10th century. XVIII; frustrated by French colonization, a stronger national unity originated in the period of decolonization, leading the country to independence in 1962. Thanks to oil and natural gas, Algeria is one of the major economic powers in Africa; the modernization of the country, however, has aggravated the urban-industrial concentration and the scarcity of water, a plague common to all Algerian cities. Furthermore, the upheaval of the ancient traditions of life of the Saharan peoples has exacerbated imbalances and contradictions. So Algeria, theater in the 90s of the twentieth century of massacres and attacks of an Islamic and terrorist matrix, it still remains backward in terms of human development indicators. The delay in structural reforms and the difficult reconversion of the public system therefore remain the fundamental issues to be resolved in order to recover the credibility and capacity of global economic relations.


Both the Islamic religion, the censorship of the colonial period, and the preponderance of classical Arabic and French as literary languages, both of which hardly understood by a large part of the population, hindered the spread of theater in Algeria for a long time. But already between the two wars (when mainly Parisian successes were represented on tour in theaters) he wrote and staged comedies in spoken Arabic Rashid Ksentini (1887-1944), whose works and ideas were inspired by the director Mustapha after 1962 Kateb and the fruitful playwright Bachtarzi Mahiedine, also author of popular adaptations from Molière. Instead he wrote Kateb Yacine in French, whose lyrics have had considerable international resonance. A significant impetus to the development of the theater gave the creation, in Algiers, of the Algerian National Theater: in its repertoire there are, in addition to the works of contemporary Algerian writers, also translations into Arabic and adaptations of works by Beckett, Brecht, Calderón de la Barca, O’Casey.


Algerian cinema began with the war of liberation and developed, not without disorder but with fervor, after independence (1962): it was born in the heart of the Resistance with documentaries by French friends and operators of the National Front. The first feature film, Une si jeune paix (1963, Una so young pace), is directed by the Frenchman J. Charby and The Battle of Algiers (1966), notable for its civil commitment, although it is a co-production, is signed by Gillo Pontecorvo. But already in 1967 an Algerian director, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina (b.1934), was awarded for The Wind of the Aurès in Cannes, where in 1975 another of his films, Chronicle of the years of embers, will win the Palme d’Or. A 1965 montage film, Ahmed Rachedi’s Dawn of the Damned, uses colonialist documents for an indictment of colonialism; in Opium and the Stick (1969) the director himself evokes the events of an occupied village, while the decisive decade 1952-62 is illustrated in a fresco of over three hours, The night is afraid of the sun (1966) by Mustapha Badie. On a higher dramatic and political level is La via (1968), by the newcomer Slim Riad, on the French concentration camps in Algeria; and does it move Mektoub for its neorealistic frankness ? (1970) by Ali Ghalem, on the ordeal of immigrant workers in Paris. Dijdid cinema refers to the trend of younger filmmakers, who are pressing to tackle current social issues, in the year of the turning point 1972: cinema linked to the agrarian revolution and to the needs of a cultural movement that rejects pure celebration of the past and is concerned with analyzing the real Algerian society that emerged from colonialism and war. The most prominent titles, in a wave of notable films, are perhaps Mohamed Bouamari’s Il carbonaio, and Abdelaziz Tolbi’s Noua. But for their social frankness and their relevance we should also mention The good families of Djaffar Damardji who, like Bureaucracy Djamel Bendeddouche, attacks the new bureaucratic bourgeoisie, Forbidden Zone Ahmed Laled, Raiders Lamine Merbah; while Sid Ali Mazif’s vigorous proletarian film Black Sweat, shot in 1970, was released only in 1974. Among the works of the following years, in which the new front actually weakened a bit, the legacy (1974) by Bouamari and, on the female revolt against the feudal spirit still present in the countryside, Il vento del Sud (1975) by Slim Riad, director who in 1974 dedicated We will return to the cause of the Palestinian people. In 1976 a new stage was reached by Omar Gatlato, Merzak Allouache’s first work, in which the contradictions of a city like Algiers are critically captured with unscrupulous joy. This is a victory for Algerian state cinema, which has understood that it has to leave the filmmakers the freedom to intervene in things that don’t work. In the 1980s, the decisive personality of Mohamed Chouikh emerged who, after having created Rupture in 1982, with Al-Kalaa (1988; The citadel) painted a proud and harsh portrait of the condition of women in contemporary Algerian society. One of the most recent films that has gained some international acclaim is Rachida, YB Chouikh director, presented at Cannes in 2002. The International Film Festival, established in 2006 and arrived in 2019 to 10 per year, was created precisely in order to give new life to the Algerian production.

Algeria Theater