Walker Art Center

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The East Wind: The Violent Silence (El Chergui, ou, le silence violent)

Directed by Moumen Smihi

Part of A Riff on the Rif: In the Spirit of the Cinematheque Tangier

“Its author shows here a stylistic mastery and the temperament of an authentic cineaste.” —Noureddine Ghali

The East Wind is pioneering Moroccan director Moumen Smihi’s enigmatic ode to his home town of Tangier on the eve of its independence in 1956. Signs of colonization are everywhere: streets named for French politicians; Franco’s Spanish cavalry arresting travelers; walls, gates, and barriers testifying to constraint. But there is also the open space of the sea, and an older, deeper substrate that Smihi’s camera probes.

The film follows Aisha, whose husband plans to take a second wife, as she resorts to old religio-magical practices in an effort to stop him. Fully veiled at the outset, she ends with her face uncovered and her hair flying free. Smihi’s formally patterned images present a society torn by contradictions. 1975, Morocco, in French and Arabic with English subtitles, 80 minutes; 35mm print and Blu-ray courtesy of Imago Film International and the Centre Cinématographique Marocain. This program is part of Moumen Smihi: Moroccan Mythologies, a touring exhibition curated by Peter Limbrick and managed by Livia Alexander.

With Si Moh, the Unlucky Man (Si Moh, pas de Chance)

Shot in Paris after Smihi completed film school, Si Moh is an investigation of the life of migrant workers in France. Connected back to the Maghreb by postcards and to his fellow immigrants by shared experiences of alienation, a man named Si Moh negotiates the industrialized suburbs of Paris as the subject of Smihi’s intimate camera. 1971, Morocco, in French and Arabic with English titles, 17 minutes.

Funding

Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada is made possible by generous support from the Bentson Foundation.