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Weather Data Source: Wettervorhersage Agadir 30 tage

Gepubliceerd: 07 augustus 2023

Analyse: The Internal Other in Myopia

The Internal Other in Myopia. Challenging Social Exclusion and Dominance is een analyse in het Engels van Yahya Laayouni. Het gaat over het beeld van Marokkaanse vrouwen in de amazigh film. Wij publiceren hier een deel van de analyse met toestemming van de auteur. Bron: "La femme dans le cinéma amazighe". Artikel gepubliceerd in Actes de Colloque de l’Université d’Eté de Sidi Ifni, 26-28 juli 2023. Te bestellen bij Vereniging Issni n Ourgh, Agadir.   

1.     The place of women in Moroccan films has undergone significant changes over the past few decades. While women in early films, with a few exceptions, were often portrayed as passive and marginalized figures (Carter 311 ), recent years have shifted toward more nuanced and complex representations. In contemporary Moroccan cinema, Amazigh films in particular, women are often depicted as strong, independent, and empowered individuals who challenge traditional gender roles and expectations. Such roles could be seen in feature films by Narjiss Nejjar's Dry Eyes (2003), Lahcen Zinoun's Mouchouma (2012), and documentaries such as Tarik El Idrissi's La journee de Khadija (2017) and Tala Hadid's House in The Fields (2017). To add to this list, in 2020, Sana Akroud released a poignant story about women's struggle in Amazigh communities. Her film Myopia could be considered a turning point in Amazigh cinema and the role of women in reshaping gender relationships and subverting power dynamics. This article highlights the role of Fatem (Sanae Akroud) in the film, as she journeys from a rural area to an urban setting and confronts the power imbalances between the two. My analysis will focus on the construction of the notion of the "rural other" and the ways in which Fatem challenges it. My objective is to deconstruct the internal orientalist perspective that underpins this concept.

Myopia tells the story of an Amazigh woman who decides to take on the responsibility of repairing the glasses of the Imam, the only person who can read and write in her village. She does not know where her adventure will take her, but she is determined to continue the journey, hoping to repair the glasses for which she has no prescription. Unfortunately, what she thought would be a short trip to a nearby town becomes a long journey to Casablanca, where she knows no one. Puzzled and disoriented about where to go, Fatem finds herself caught in a protest. Next, she is in a police station where two officers interrogate her about her role in the street protest. Faithful to herself and the purpose of her trip, she explains that she only wants to repair the Imam's glasses so that he can read the letters she and other people in the village receive from their loved ones. Scared and fearful, her water breaks, and we learn later that she has lost her baby. She was then admitted to a hospital where she became the central focus of the police, media, and human rights activists.

Forms of Dominance, Exclusion, Marginality, and Resistance

Myopia uses a documentary style as a filming technique. Sana Akround does not waste time contextualizing Fatem's living conditions. In the film's opening scene, a close-up shot of a ceiling shows drops of water falling on Fatem's bed. She gets up, changes the bed's position, and goes back to sleep. Next scene, a shaky camera follows Fatem in the middle of nowhere as she digs out shrubs and branches, which she piles up and carries on her back. We hear her heavy breathing with no dialogue, only her footsteps as she walks on a rocky land surrounded by snow. To mimic a real¬life situation and engage the viewers in action, the camera alternates between unsteady medium to full body shots as it follows Fatem to highlight women's struggles in these areas. After she returns home, Fatem appears to be washing clothes. These first scenes, though short, capture in detail the women's daily routine in these villages; they are the first to wake up and the last to go to bed.

Later in the film, when the journalist asks Fatem if the trip was too much for her being pregnant, Fatem interjects. In a medium close-up, with tears on her cheek, Fatem starts telling what her daily routine looks like:

We, mountaineers, get up in the early morning. I go and collect wood from under the snow. Then I go to another spot on the mountain to look for dry wood. I put the thorny wood into a pile which I carry home on my own back then, I walk a long way to fetch water from the spring. We clean our grain and trade hens for wheat that we get from the merchant. We clean wheat, and we grind it. We bake and make bread. We do everything. Nothing frightens us. What can be frightening is when you are lost in the snow. Nobody knows if you are alive or dead. You won't get news from your husband or son ... who will tell me if my husband sends me something. I was frightened when the imam's glasses broke. I almost lost hope for a new life. Every morning when I wake up, I keep telling myself there is a better life there where my husband lives.

Though applied in a different context, Gayatri Spivak's notion of the subaltern as marginalized and silenced is helpful in this scene, especially when she emphasizes that the female situation as subaltern is worse, "Much like in the context of colonial production, the subaltern cannot speak, and the subaltern as female is even more deeply in shadow" (329). It is evident that in the film, Akroud gives Fatem a voice and allows her to speak to claim her agency and affirm her presence. In this long monologue, she verbalizes her suffering and highlights her strength. She is fully conscious of her duties and responsibilities. When the journalist 'accused' her of being selfish in going on the trip and risking her baby's life, Fatem was infuriated and could not remain silent in front of the accusation she received. Her self-awareness is indicative of her ability to speak and defend herself. The presumed stereotypical image of the 'other' being inferior and unable to voice their concern is deconstructed. Ultimately, it is not Fatem who cannot express herself, but the people who talk to her are deaf to what she says because they fail to see beyond their interests. When Fatem speaks, the people listening to her pretend they understand and sympathize with her suffering and the injustice she experiences; however, their promises to help do not materialize. This indicates that the dominant group aims to maintain their control and limit the freedom of the group they dominate.)

Another instance that shows the failure of the hegemonic discourse to impose its dominance is when the journalist asks Fatem about her religion, and Fatem says that God forgot to visit them. Fatem expressed her anger and frustration in a moment of weakness. Her honest answer was a reaction to the journalist's earlier question about the importance of education and knowledge, which Fatem does not have. Fatem said it does not matter which God one believes in; knowing God does not require a degree to feel his presence or absence. It was a brief moment where she doubted her faith but only to reinforce it later. Being a Muslim and caring for a Jewish cemetery and synagogue, Fatem knows the importance of spirituality, particularly when she expresses it through her connection with nature. Though she feels pressure from the journalist, she reverses the power position and does not refrain from answering with poise and confidence. Fatem shows that she can articulate her thoughts, not merely answer questions. It is apparent that the journalist sees her as an informant, to employ an anthropologist term, but she resists this passive function that gives the journalist an authorial position. This reversal of power, where Fatem talks back, reveals the fragility of the journalist's sense of dominance and unfolds her distorted perception of Fatem."

Afbeelding: een actrice van de film Myopia in de studio.