Among the sixteen films screening at MoMAs Global Lens, 2007 (January 17-28), its fourth annual exhibition of cinema from developing countries, are two fiction features directed by women: Li Yu from China, with HONG YAN (DAM STREET) and Djamila Sahraoui from Algeria and France, with BARAKAT! (ENOUGH!)
In Li Yus HONG YAN (DAM STREET, China), Xiao Yuna sixteen yearold girl living in small, morally conservative riverside towndiscovers she is pregnant. The local community is stunned and shuns her. Shes forced to put her child up for adoption. Ten years later, abandoned by her family and ostracized by residents of her hometown, shes singing a local song and dance troupe. Her only companion is Xiao Yong, an affectionate 10-year-old boy who protects her from the critical eyes of the community until a marriage proposal reveals the limits of their friendship, and her unresolved past.
Li Yu, born in 1973 in Shangdong Province in Northern China, earned a degree in Chinese literature and became one of the top TV hosts in China. After moving to Beijing she began working on documentaries, joining CCTVs (China Central Television) feature program
Of her film, Li Yu has said, I always maintain that this is a film full of hope. I say this because it tells a story about searching for a way out. Metaphorically speaking, Xiao-Yun is like a thirsty person suddenly finding a cup of water. I use a method quite close to traditional narrative to relate a contemporary story about a woman subject to the overwhelming pressure of an unchanging tradition.
Djamila Sahraouis BARAKAT! (ENOUGH!, Algeria/France), set in Algeria in the 1990s, follows tow women on a dangerous search for the younger womens husband, a journalist whose writings resulted in his disappearance. Both women are anachronisms in Islamist Algeria: the younger is a doctor, the older a nurse, with vivid memories of Algerias fight for independence. Sahroui allows the landscape and history of the country to become an organic part of the story as the journey shed light on the womens determination, friendship and personal histories. US premiere.
Djamila Sahraoui, born in Algeria in 1950, has lived in France since 1975. After studying literature in Algeria, she studied filmmaking at lIDHEC in Paris. Shes made numerous shorts and documentaries. She received the Villa Médicis Hors les Murs prize in 1997. Barakat! (Enough!) is her first feature film.
Of the film, Sahraoui has said, In my film, from the beginning, I did not want to show imprisoned, subservient women, as one sees so often in Algerian films, nor unrealistic heroines who deny themselves in the name of history. I wanted to portray women who are in motion and of course this motion influenced the films form. These women make their way in life without ever pitying themselves or arousing the audiences pity. They move forward despite all obstacles. They move forward, whatever happens. And they never return to the place they set out from.
Global Lens, 2007 is organized by Jytte Jensen, Curator, Department of Film, MOMA, and presented in collaboration with the Global Film Iniative (GFI), a San Francisco-based organization established to promote cross-cultural understanding through the medium of cinema.