Dalila Hamdoun


"A young woman ties up her hair in front of the camera. This simple task is of course prosaic, unmoving, mostly brushed off awareness. Film transforms it into – female – ritual, a pause. She walks in and out of the frame, a painterly figure, while the fine grain of her skin absorbs the light. We worked tirelessly until the camera and I became invisible, till the acting was driven out of Nicola and her slender figure acquired its own fluidity. I looked for femaleness rather than prescribed femininity. Incidentally, she used her favourite hair clip, a gift from a relative (I forget who). I realised later how short scenes could capture enough of a person to be called portraits."


From evaluation interviews, 2 December 2004
"The female gaze doesn't exist in Hollywood cinema, it's just the male gaze... Maybe this is why it (the veil) is so awkward and uncomfortable for Westerners."

"The irony is, (Feminine) is a woman showing almost everything, a women putting her hair up, and in the next film I want to show almost nothing....to film a Muslim woman, and I insist a practising Muslim woman who wears the veil, to put a veil on in front of the camera. My purpose is to use digital technology in the opposite way we usually think of it, which is to spy on people. I wanted to do it in film and then realised film goes to a laboratory, seen by other people, and there is an issue in Islam of who you show your hair, your body, to; there is separation between men and women, home, private and public, more than the West. Digital technology is actually better for that, because I film this woman, and it goes directly into my computer, and I'm in my room in a private space, nobody's going to see extra that shouldn't be seen. You have a bin here, you can erase everything - it will disappear for ever, which will protect the privacy of the person."

"( Western photographers, failing to obtain tourist images of ordinary women in North Africa in the early years of the last century,) they were frustrated, they were denied their male gaze, and they had to reproduce what constitutes Africa for them in the studio, and by doing that they were multiplying the symbols and making it more artificial; the more they put symbols in it, the more it was artificial. What I want to do is the complete opposite: have it in her environment, doing what she does every day, respecting the person by editing the film with them..."

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