What is it about?

When Nadir Nadir Moknèche made his second film, Viva Laldjérie, many criticized it and accused it of not being Algerian enough because it's in French. Yet, there is Arabic in the film. The language is repressed, not absent. This tells us something about Algeria at the time (around 2002). The country was emerging from a traumatic civil war, and much of the suffering was repressed as well, which suggest a link between language and trauma in this context.

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Why is it important?

The study of North African cinema is a field still largely rooted in French studies. When only French is taken into account, crucial aspect are overlooked by scholars, such as the way that Arabic is repressed in Viva Laldjérie. It is urgently important to pay attention to other languages when studying this region (Arabic in the case of this particular film, but other languages are pertinent, namely Tamazight).


This is one of my favorite movies (might have been my favorite if it passed the Bechdel test). Part of the reason for this is that it documents the end of the Algerian Civil War (a highly emotional and still misunderstood period). It is also a beautiful and rare portrayal of the city of Algiers at the time.

Ziad Bentahar
Towson University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The deceptive absence of Arabic in Nadir Moknèche’s Viva Laldjérie, Francosphères, June 2019, Liverpool University Press,
DOI: 10.3828/franc.2019.5.
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