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Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema

Terri Ginsberg and Chris Lippard

The Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema covers the production and exhibition of cinema in the Middle East and in communities whose heritage is from the region and whose films commonly reflect this background. It covers the cinemas of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In addition, it includes the non-Arab states of Turkey and Iran, as well as the Jewish state of Israel.

To a substantial degree, cinema has served to define the character of the peoples and nations of the Middle East. With that in mind, the content and arrangement of entries in this volume works to introduce and emphasize both the national and transnational character of Middle Eastern cinema, which includes not only its indigenous but its colonial aspects as well, both external and internal to the geographical regions themselves. This is done through a chronology, an introductory essay, a bibliography, and over 500 cross-referenced dictionary entries on individual films, filmmakers, and actors. It also covers the range of cinematic modes, from documentary to fiction, representational to animation, generic to experimental, mainstream to avant-garde, and entertainment to propaganda.
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Scarecrow Press
Pages: 592Size: 6 x 9
978-0-8108-6090-2 • Hardback • March 2010 • $152.00 • (£100.00) - Currently out of stock. Copies will arrive soon.
978-0-8108-7364-3 • eBook • March 2010 • $144.00 • (£95.00)
Terri Ginsberg is a director at the International Council for Middle East Studies in Washington, D.C. She is the editor of a special issue on media and film of the International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies, and the author of Holocaust Film: The Political Aesthetics of Ideology.

Chris Lippard is assistant professor of Film Studies and director of Graduate Studies in Film at the University of Utah. He has published work on Abbas Kiarostami, Derek Jarman, Dennis Potter, F. W. Murnau, and Jorge Sanjines.

With contributions from:
Farshad Aminian (Florida Gulf Coast University)
s Arslan (Bahçesehir University)
Sandra Carter (Penn State University)
Anne Ciecko (University of Massachusetts-Amherst)
Gayatri Devi (Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania)
Iman Hamam (American University in Cairo)
Helga Tawil-Souri (New York University)
Mark Westmoreland (American University in Cairo)
Ginsberg (Holocaust Film) and Lippard (By Angels Driven), along with eight distinguished field scholars, provide the foremost subject dictionary, intended to support deeper inquiry into Middle Eastern filmmakers' representation of culture, history, and self. Entries cover films, figures, production companies, cinematic concepts, and key terms relevant to the various nations positioned between Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. However, among the 500 alphabetized entries are also productions made by exiled or otherwise politically dispersed Middle Easterners. While acknowledging North American and European filmic depictions, the authors devote less time to these outsider interpretations. Instead, the multiparagraph, fully cross-referenced entries offer specifics on whether profiled films were intended for domestic or international audiences, and consideration is given to how these particulars impact characterization and self-depiction. The entries are bookended by a chronology, dating the inception of Middle Eastern cinema to 1896 Lumière screenings in Egypt, and a 51-page film list, organized by country. A 31-page further reading list rounds out the work. BOTTOM LINE While it extends well beyond the chronological boundaries of Lina Khatib's Filming the Modern Middle East, this is still a fitting complement. Recommended for collections serving Middle Eastern-focused studies and film studies.
Library Journal

This work by Ginsberg (International Council for Middle East Studies) and Lippard (Univ. of Utah) will be a necessary purchase for most academic and large public libraries because it is the first English-language dictionary published on Middle Eastern cinema as a whole....This new historical dictionary opens with a valuable chronology, covering 1896-2009, and dealing with outstanding cinematic events in the region. Key sociopolitical events are also mentioned, to provide context. Following a brief but helpful introduction, the body of the dictionary provides A-Z entries on significant films, filmmakers, stars, and topics of concern. These topics include but are not limited to film schools, festivals, centers, organizations, movements, genres and types of film (e.g., Beur cinema), themes (e.g., women, Islam), and historical summaries of national cinemas under the nation's name. This volume offers pioneering coverage of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and provides references for their nascent cinematic developments. It is blessed with a substantial and valuable filmography and bibliography, the latter classified into general works and then into works by nation; it covers both journal articles and books....This is an excellent buy and should see heavy use in libraries. Essential.

For students or aficionados of specialized topics, the various Historical Dictionary series can mean the difference between starting the research process or finding nothing at all. Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema, part of the Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts series, is a prime example. The authors are both specialists in the field, with substantial publication credentials. The volume starts with a chronology that begins in 1896 (the first Lumiere screenings in Egypt) and concludes in 2009 (the use of YouTube for political purposes in Iran; the first Palestinian American feature film). The lengthy introductory essay that follows concludes with an explanation of what countries are not included and why. The 500 or so A–Z entries cover people (including actors, directors, critics, composers, writers, and important historic figures), specific films, styles of film, concepts, and more. Entries on individual countries are several pages long and outline the place of the country within the region, its contribution to the history of the film, and important films and individuals. Entries about concepts such as Gender and sexuality and Nationalism focus on how these have been treated in film. The entries on the films themselves, which include information on the director, actors, plot, and significance, may be the most consulted entries in the volume. An alphabetically arranged filmography is cross-referenced to the dictionary entries. The bibliography that follows is divided by subject. This book is essential for all academic libraries where film study is important and should be given consideration by larger public libraries in areas with a large Middle Eastern population.

This dictionary is recommended for all academic libraries, and for larger public libraries. It would also be a useful reference for anyone involved in the film industry.
American Reference Books Annual

As a preface, [the Historical Dictionary of Middle Eastern Cinema asks] about the future of these types of cinema which flourish in the Middle East. It is difficult to predict what will come of low-distribution films which are prey to the giants of Hollywood and Bollywood. Whatever may happen, we can only be thankful for this dictionary, the main aim of which is to make the gems of Middle Eastern cinema accessible to a large audience. They regretfully tend to stay inaccessible to an audience that does not speak the language of the film or, in some cases, the film's limited budget means that it cannot see international distribution. Most of these films have been resounding successes in their own country and there is a cinematic treasure trove to discover in Europe, for example. They are the torch of a generation and a nation that builds itself through imagination and the aesthetics of film and it is our duty as researchers to make sure that as living memory such films do not fall into oblivion.
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies