La Nouba des Femmes du Mont Chenoua – نوبة نساء جبل شنوة – Assia Djebar (1977)

“This film, in the form of a nouba, is dedicated, posthumously, to Hungarian musician Béla Bartók, who had come to a nearly mute Algeria to study its folk music in 1913; and to Yaminai Oudai, known as Zoulikha, who organised…

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“This film, in the form of a nouba, is dedicated, posthumously, to Hungarian musician Béla Bartók, who had come to a nearly mute Algeria to study its folk music in 1913; and to Yaminai Oudai, known as Zoulikha, who organised a resistance network in the city of Cherchell and its mountains in 1955 and 1956. She was arrested in the mountains when she was in her forties. Her name was subsequently added to the list of the missing. Lila — the protagonist in this film — could be Zoulikha’s daughter. The six other talking women of Chenoua recount fragments of their lives. The Nouba of the Women is their moment. But the Nouba is also the Nouba of the Andalusian music in its particular rhythmic movements.“

Tourné au printemps 1976, La Nouba des femmes du mont Chenoua met en scène Lila, une architecte de trente ans de retour dans ses montagnes natales du Chenoua, en compagnie de sa fille et de son mari handicapé des jambes après un accident. Entre fiction, images documentaires et incursions littéraires, ce premier film de l’écrivaine documente et orchestre un va-et-vient incessant entre mémoire, histoire et présent, nourri de la musique de Béla Bartók (1881-1945) qui séjourna en Algérie en 1906 et surtout en 1913 afin d’y étudier la musique populaire. Ce film lui est dédié en même temps qu’à Zoulikha, une héroïne de la guerre d’indépendance à laquelle Assia Djebar consacrera La Femme sans sépulture en 2002.

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