Locations and narrative reorientations in Arab cinemas/World Cinema

Authored by: Anne Ciecko

The Routledge Companion to World Cinema

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138918801
eBook ISBN: 9781315688251
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter begins with a cinematic disappointment: a cautionary tale of the sparse landscape of a national/domestic film culture giving way to foreign interests and global aspirations, and a seeming desert of imagination. The Doha Film Institute in Qatar, together with a Tunisian film and television producer, teamed up to make a 55 million dollar production, Day of the Falcon (aka. Black Gold, 2011, France/Italy/Qatar/Tunisia, Jean-Jacques Annaud) that was almost universally panned upon its release (Ritman 2014). Located in an indeterminate Arabia, and filmed in Qatar and Tunisia, Day of the Falcon was directed by French filmmaker Jean-Jacques Annaud and starred a mostly non-Arab cast headed by Antonio Banderas and Freida Pinto in lead roles in a lavishly derivative, Arab-themed historical desert epic about the rise of the modern oil industry. Based on a 1957 book by Swiss writer Hans Reusch titled South of the Heart: A Novel of Modern Arabia, the ambitions of its film adaptation for grandiose global entertainment elided dimensions of cultural verisimilitude in favour of outmoded tropes and Orientalist stereotypes. The film failed to connect with contemporary audiences, and apparently contributed to the infrastructural implosion of the nascent Qatari film industry, and the squelching of dreams of an international Arab breakthrough blockbuster (Mintzer 2011; Pulver 2012). As this chapter examines and as Lina Khatib insists in her book Filming the Modern Middle East: “While it is important to study how the West represents the East, it is even more crucial to see how the ‘Orient’ represents itself”—or allows itself to be represented (Khatib 2006: 4).

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