Viola Shafik

in Arab Cinema

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9789774160653
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781936190096 | DOI:

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Arab film making was only partly able to compete with “First World” cinema. It has remained greatly dependent on Western imports, technical know-how, evaluation, and partly even on Western financial support. The so-called Third-Worldist anti-colonial cinema did not succeed in resolving the contradiction between cultural promotion, political commitment, and rentability, and was soon eclipsed either by entirely mainstream-oriented cinema or by the rather anti-authoritarian, deconstructive, and stylistically innovative, yet regionally marginalized, cinéma d'auteur. Nonetheless, mainstream as well as individualist cinema was able to convey elements of native art and culture, and became actively involved in the creation of specific national or cultural identities. Although the medium became part of a mass-mediated culture and functioned as a means of mass entertainment, commercialism, the obligation to rentability, and competition with Western products did not result in a complete imitation of Western cinema, but initiated the reformation of the imported film language according to the needs of local audiences.

Keywords: Arab film making; First World cinema; anti-colonial cinema; cinéma d'auteur; native art; culture; mass entertainment; commercialism; rentability; Western cinema

Chapter.  1780 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture

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