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Si Moh, The Unlucky Man + The East Wind (18*)

Returning the Colonial Gaze

A still from Si Moh

Moroccan Moumen Smihi takes up the challenge to imagine a new language for cinema, one truly expressive of local culture, not an imitation of Western models.

Post-independence, filmmaking was part of the attempt to re-establish a valid cultural identity in many parts of the formerly colonized world. In taking up an art form and technology invented in the West, directors such as Moumen Smihi were concerned not to import Western filmmaking practices wholescale, but to invent new forms appropriate to the local culture.

The East Wind is a ground-breaking work. Its principal storyline concerns a woman, Aicha, whose life is turned upside down when her husband decides to take a second wife. But this is just one of a tangle of storylines, a narrative texture that harks back to classical Arab literature. The complex soundtrack evokes the “mosaic” quality of Moroccan society and its linguistic diversity; fragmented on-screen space alludes to the spaces of Tangier, an international zone under the joint administration of France, Spain, and the UK in the mid-50s when the film is set.

Please note: this session contains scenes of real animal slaughter.

France 1971Dir Moumen Smihi 17 min Video presentation

Morocco 1975 Dir Moumen Smihi 80 min 35mm presentation

Screening materials courtesy of the director, subtitles with thanks to Peter Limbrick of University of California Santa Cruz


Man smoking a cigarette

Screen Notes: Returning the Colonial Gaze

We spoke to our cinema curator Tamara Anderson to guide you through the films that make up this innovative and provocative season, Returning the Colonial Gaze and share our recommendations of what else you should be watching. 

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Barbican Cinema 3