The McMillan-Stewart Fellowship in Distinguished Filmmaking was established at Harvard’s Film Study Center in 1997 with a generous gift from Geneviève McMillan in memory of her late friend, Reba Stewart, to support outstanding Francophone filmmakers from Africa or of African descent. While many recipients have been recognized masters of African and Arab cinema – Ousmane Sembene and Mezak Allouache, for example – the fellowship has also been awarded to directors in the middle of their careers – Mahamet Saleh Haroun, Abdellatif Kechiche and Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche. This time the honor goes to someone who with his first two features has already earned a place in the top ranks of young north African filmmakers: Tariq Teguia.
Teguia was born in Algeria in 1966 and studied visual arts and philosophy in Paris. He began his career teaching contemporary art history and working as a photographer before making a series of short films in the late 1990s. These first works attracted enough attention that Teguia’s feature debut, Rome Rather Than You premiered in film festivals around the world. His follow-up, Inland, won prizes at both Venice and Jeonju.
Teguia’s attention to the relation between characters and the space they inhabit, as well as his penchant for lacunal narrative, betrays the influence of Antonioni and perhaps Jia Zhangke as well. Like them, Teguia has a gift for calm, muted images that nevertheless brim with tension – an appropriately cinematic style for depicting life in present-day Algeria. The country has so far been largely bypassed by the Arab Spring, with the wounds of the civil war of the 1990s still unhealed and with a disempowered and dispirited population overlooked by an unresponsive government and divided over the place of Islam in Algerian society.The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to welcome Tariq Teguia for his first U.S. retrospective. — David Pendleton
Presented in partnership with the Film Study Center, Harvard. Additional support from the Moroccan Studies Program, Harvard. Special thanks to this year's selection committee members: Dominique Bluher, Véréna Paravel and David Pendleton, as well as to Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Ernst Karel and Cozette Russell of the Film Study Center. Additional thanks: Jean-Michel Frodon, Jacques Rancière.
Directed by Tariq Teguia. With Samira Kaddour, Rachid Amrani,
Algeria/France/Germany 2006, 35mm, color, 111 min. Arabic with English subtitles
Longing to escape the dead end that seems to loom before them, a young woman in Algiers reads Kafka and Chester Himes while her boyfriend dreams of immigrating to Europe. Finally, they enlist the services of a smuggler to take them to Italy. In his first feature film, Teguia integrates kitchen-sink realism and modernist fragmentation to depict a contemporary Algeria growing restive in a world crisscrossed by flows of labor, capital and desire. With sober long takes of domestic situations and Godardian interruptions of text on screen, Teguia rejects the melodrama that often imbues Arab and French cinema about northern Africa. Throughout, Teguia’s frequent camera movement and the charismatic performances of its two lead actors bring the film to piquant life.
Directed by Tariq Teguia. With Abdelkader Affak, Ines Rose Djakou,
Algeria/France 2008, 35mm, color, 138 min. Arabic with English subtitles
Inland weaves together quietly intense sequences, vast and almost empty landscapes, and bursts of chatter and raucous music to present an elliptical story about two wanderers whose paths unexpectedly meet. One is an Arab topographer surveying a remote area in western Algeria that may be a stronghold for radical Islamists; the other is a young African woman crossing the desert to migrate northward. The intersection of their trajectories gives Teguia the opportunity to contrast two ways of seeing: one rational and scientific, seeking to master space, the other engaged in a direct, tactile experience of terrain. Juxtaposing these two projects allows Teguia to comment simultaneously on current geopolitics and on contemporary cinema.