Reclaiming Narration: On Queering Middle Eastern Cinema
Iskandar Abdalla, Film Curator & Researcher
Throughout its history, cinema has been a significant player in shaping imageries of ideal love, in envisioning the horizons of desire and the standards of the desirable and setting the boundaries between licit and illicit forms of intimacy.
Middle Eastern cinema has often backed patriarchal structures and provided heteronormativity with narratory and aesthetic endowments that stabilize its operation. In many cases, though, filmmakers have ventured to manipulate the constraints of censorship and normative authority in the region, experimenting with the narration in ways that subvert dominant views on gender and sexuality.
How do queer filmmakers and film scholars critically engage with the cinematic legacy of the region? How far has their engagement with queer themes been informed by visual references and modes of representation brought forth by the same film history of the region? Also, to what extent does this history shape the expectation of film viewers in ways that might induce aversion when confronted with non-conventional or queer narration? How can this history be reclaimed through modes of queer modes of subversion and appropriation?