The Zerda and the Songs of Forgetting is a multilayered exploration of colonial depictions of the Maghreb. Using “scraps of a despised ordinariness” (Djebar) in order to decipher various dimensions of the French colonization of the Maghreb, the film deconstructs the orientalist image through use of editing and fragments of poetry, dialogue and song in both Arabic and French. Djebar’s film is not only a frontal attack on the colonial image but through its form carries out an anti-colonial critique of the practice of image-making. Using this strategy, the film lays siege to the making of national identities and the drawing of state boundaries. The Zerda and the Songs of Forgetting is a rare form of filmmaking that builds on the strategies of Soviet montage, not one that merely emulates the techniques of the past but transforms them into an indigenous filmic language.
Bachir Amroune is an Algerian German journalist and filmmaker. He holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Cologne in Islamic Studies, Philosophy and Linguistics. His current interests focus on human rights and international justice.