London: Algerian Cultural Festival

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Words Hadeel Mohamed

It seems fitting that the first event in Rich Mix’s Algerian Cultural Festival is a screening of Africa Rocks The Casbah – a film about another Algerian festival, which took place in Algiers back in 1969.

The Algerian Cultural Festival, which takes place at the London arts centre on October 20, is the UK’s first festival dedicated to the celebration of Algerian Culture. The organisers aim to bring both traditional and post-colonial narratives to light, through art, culture, film, dance and music of Algerian origin.

Other films on the programme, in addition to Africa Rocks The Casbah, include Prends Ta Place (Take Your Place), in which director Amina Zoubir has women telling their stories in spaces typically reserved for men; Mollement, Un Samedi Matin (Softly One Saturday Morning), directed by Sofia Djama; and director Slimane Ouguenoun’s HarragaUK, exploring the realities of life for illegal Algerian immigrants in London. Some screenings are followed by talks and Q&A sessions with the directors themselves.

“The idea was born out of the desire to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Algerian Independence,” one of the festival’s organisers told ARISE. “It quickly evolved into further objectives: raising awareness about Algeria, its history and its immensely rich cultural heritage; bringing the latter to a wider British audience; and placing Algeria firmly on the map of British cultural manifestations.

“The second objective was to use the festival as a catalyser and a platform to connect the Algerian community here in London, and hopefully in time to extend to the rest of the UK. The Algerian community in Britain is fragmented and suffers from a lack of cohesion.”

The live music section of the programme kicks off at 9.30pm, featuring artists including Gnawa musician Diwan El Malouf, Sid Ahmed El Bahi, The Papers and YADi. 

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