This article is part of the edited volume Documentary Filmmaking in the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Viola Shafik, Cairo: AUC Press, 2021.
While many of the Arab documentary films that emerged after the digital turn in the 1990s have been the subject of close scholarly and media attention, far less well studied is the immense wealth of Arab documentaries produced during the celluloid era. These ranged from newsreels to information, propaganda, and educational films, travelogues, as well as more radical, artistic formats, such as direct cinema and film essays. This collected volume sets out to examine the long history of Arab nonfiction filmmaking in the Middle East and North Africa across a range of national trajectories and documentary styles, from the early twentieth century to the present.
Documentary Filmmaking in the Middle East and North Africa traces the historical development of documentary filmmaking with an eye to the widely varied socio-political, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural contexts in which the films emerged. Thematically, the contributions provide insights into a whole range of relevant issues, both theoretical and historical, such as structural development and state intervention, formats and aesthetics, new media, politics of representation, auteurs, subjectivity, minority filmmaking, ‘Artivism,’ and revolution.