Celebration of the ‘Seventh Art’ in Oran
The 6th International Arab Film Festival took place in Oran at the beginning of December 2012, with the festival opening ceremony taking place and the Mohamed Ben Ahmed Convention Center. Referring to the event as “an occasion to reaffirm ties that link the Arab peoples” the Algerian Culture Minister Khalida Toumi noted in a written statement read by her representative Rabah Hamdi, that these ties are “links forged by common history and same civilization”. While Arabs have been scattered throughout the world in more recent times, these common ties are seldom broken, and films highlighting the history, traditions and culture of Arabs, wherever they may be located, tend to have a unifying effect.
Filmmaking is often referred to as the ‘seventh art’, with the other six being listed by German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel as architecture, sculpture, painting, dance, music and poetry. Referring to this ‘seventh art’, Khalida Toumi noted that in recent years Arab cinema has experienced significant progress to put it in the same league as the world’s big icons of the seventh art, noting that Arab cinema has played a pioneering role in serving oppressed people and defending their right to liberty, and pointing out that the 7th Algerian art has served as an ‘arm to combat the French colonialism’. She also pointed out that, as with other field of creativity, cinema is a means of preserving Arab heritage, with the Oran Festival being an event offering the opportunity to assess the present of the Arab nation while considering means to avoid future dangers.
As part of the opening ceremony of the festival a documentary covering five decades of Algerian cinema was shown to the audience, with the most recent film by French-Algerian film director Rachid Bouchareb, entitled Just Like a Woman following later. Starring Sienna Miller and Golshifteh Farahani, the film is the first of three films Bouchareb has planned which will address the relationship between the Arab world and the west, or more specifically, North America. Just Like a Woman follows the story of a North African woman and an American housewife as they travel from Chicago to Santa Fe to compete in a belly-dancing event.
Thirteen full-length feature films and fourteen short films competed for honors at the increasingly popular International Arab Film Festival in Oran – a platform for the ‘seventh art’.