Le Fort des Fous. 2017. France/Algeria/Greece/Germany/Qatar. Directed by Narimane Mari. Courtesy the filmmaker
September 22, 2023 – September 30, 2023
The Museum of Modern Art
In the decade since her debut feature, Bloody Beans (2013), the Algerian filmmaker Narimane Mari—whose directorial oeuvre builds on a career in film production, art, publishing, and even early digital networks—has emerged as one of the most fearless minds in contemporary cinema. While she is best known for films exploring the legacy of French colonialism in North Africa, more recent projects that look at artistic lineages anew or confront the ultimate mysteries of death demonstrate Mari’s extraordinary capacity for reshaping narrative through sensory modes of perception and the power of memory.
Spirited hybrids of reenactment, improvisation, performance, and interview permeate her work, which draws on documentary and experimental traditions while consistently defying genre altogether. Populated with non-actors, Mari’s films often have the feeling of a fable or fugue (propelled by booming soundscapes created by a host of regular collaborators). Among her protagonists are colonial officers speaking in tongues; children cast in a boisterous restaging of the Algerian War of Independence; a man wordlessly digging his own grave; and Mari’s late partner, the painter Michel Haas.
This first survey of Mari’s work in North America is a journey through an intimate, delirious, playful, and disorienting cinema. Taken as a whole, her work reveals the astonishing freedom of a director eager to dismantle the status quo—both on screen and off. In so doing, Mari reveals herself as a great stylist, creating exhilarating stories with a great economy of means, while inexorably moving toward a cinema of resistance through the depths of imagination. Quoting Antonin Artaud in Bloody Beans, Mari affirms, “It is better to not obey. It’s one way to be free.”
Narimane Mari includes the US premiere of Mari’s two most recent films, as well as films by other directors that she has selected. Mari will present select screenings during the retrospective.
Organized by Sophie Cavoulacos, Associate Curator, Department of Film.
Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black, with major contributions from the Triad Foundation, Inc., The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, and by Karen and Gary Winnick.