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Women’s Cinema from Tangiers to Tehran

Sunday, March 29, 2009
2:00 p.m. Immigrant Memories: The North African Experience
Yamina Benguigui (France, 1997)

(Mémoires d’immigrés—L’héritage maghrebin). “Our children have to know why we’re here, why we came and how we came, what conditions we worked in, how we spent our lives,” notes a speaker in Yamina Benguigui’s epic portrait of the North African immigrant experience in France, a kind of nonfiction, modern-day Roots for Europe. The film documents the why, what, and how in a glorious merger of rare footage, personal interviews, and political discourse divided into three sections—fathers, mothers, and children—each of which speaks to a particular dimension of the immigrant experience. Archival footage includes revelatory images of the first postwar wave of Algerian and Moroccan immigrants in France and governmental “impromptu visits” to claustrophobic immigrant housing areas. Interviews with youth in the banlieues, the outlying, mainly immigrant suburbs, prove that the situation has both changed and stayed the same. Immigrant Memories showcases the history, conflicts, and vibrant cultures of immigrant France, and by extension, of modern Europe.

—Jason Sanders

• Written by Benguigui. Photographed by Virginie Saint Martin, Bakir Belaîdi, Serge Richard. (160 mins, In French with English subtitles, Color, Beta SP)