La Zerda ou les chants de l’oubli (Algeria: 1982)


Assia Djebar


Writer: Assia Djebar

Writer: Malek Alloula

Editor: Nicole Schelemmer

Music: Ahmed Essyad


This film essay pieces together various photographs and footage of the Zerda ceremony from colonial archives, with anonymous poetic voiceovers recounting the lived experiences of indigenous Algerians. This pairing examines the contrast between the foreign perspective and the reality of the lives being viewed from that perspective, and the soundtrack is interspersed with “songs of forgetting” to recognize traditions that are being lost to colonialism even as they are tokenized by and subjugated to the colonial gaze.


La Zerda ou les chants de l’oubli. Haus de Kulturen der Welt.

La zerda ou les chants de l'oubli. Circle of Assia Djebar Friends.

Donadey, Anne. “Rekindling the Vividness of the Past: Assia Djebar’s Films and Fiction.” World Literature Today 70.4 (1996): 885-92.

Taoua, Phyllis. “Of Prisons and Freedom: Liberation in the Work of Assia Djebar.” World Literature Today 86.6 (2012): 12-18.

Other movies from Algeria made in

Title Country Year Director More infos
La Zerda ou les chants de l’oubli Algeria 1982 Assia Djebar
Vent de Sable (Sandstorm) Algeria, Miscellaneous 1982 Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina
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