Ahmed Lallem

"le plus intellectuel sans doute en Algérie dans sa démarche, mais aussi le plus original, le plus inventif, techniquement et plastiquement de sa génération". (Claude Michel Cluny, Dictionnaire des nouveaux cinémas arabes, 1978).

The Algerian filmmaker Ahmed Lallem (1940-2009) worked as a war reporter at the borders for the FLN (National Liberation Front). He was sent by the FLN to gain work experience at Yugoslav Television in Belgrade, and also studied for a time at IDHEC in Paris. Lallem studied at the Łódź Film School from 1963 to 1966. He then made several documentaries, of which the most well-known are the short film Elles (1996), in which he gives voice to young women a few years after independence, and the feature film, Zone Interdite (1974). Lea Morin on cinema3.com


In 1963 Sarah Maldoror was working in Algeria, most notably with Ahmed Lallem on Elles. lt was here she made her first short, Monangambee (1969), from a novel by the Angolan writer Luandino Vieira. (from the intro, To make a film means to take a position (see Inflight no 5, 28-29), edited and republished in Imruh Bakari and Mbye Cham (eds.), African Experiences of Cinema, London: BFI 1996, 45-47.)  

Elles, 1966 



Filmed only four years after the Algerian people ended over a century of French colonial occupation, Elles lingers on the enormous task of building a new world. The teenagers who speak in Elles are intimately familiar with the demands and mechanics of revolution, although they don’t necessarily agree on how to go about it. When one student invokes how women in the USSR and Bulgaria work as bus drivers and ship captains, another points out that she doesn't even feel safe going outside--so how can she even begin considering driving buses? 

The film never names the individual women who speak, blending their separate inner worlds into a singular cinematic consciousness that could easily tip towards an essentializing statement on all Algerian women. Fortunately, the lively classroom scenes preserve the debates and disagreements that characterize any political organizing and prevent the film from completely flattening the students to the point of abstraction. With total emotional and intellectual lucidity, the teenagers of Elles think collectively and deeply about building a future that will include them. (Layla Muchnik-Benali, Signs of Remembering on wexarts.org


Algériennes (Elles), 30 ans après, (1966-1996)



algeriades.com (including a comprehensive filmography)







Zone Interdite, 1972