Ralf Junkerjürgen, Professor of Romance Cultural Studies at the Universität Regensburg (Germany); publications on Spanish film: Alber Ponte, corto en las venas. Acercamiento a un cineasta español (2011; with Pedro Álvarez Olañeta), Spanische Filme des 20. Jahrhunderts in Einzeldarstellungen (ed.; 2012) among articles and reviews. Editor of the collection Aproximaciones a las culturas hispánicas (Vervuert) dedicated to media studies; curator of the film award „Premio cinEScultura“ (with Pedro Álvarez Olañeta) for contemporary Spanish short films.
“Through the eyes of a child: the child as witness”, Hannah Kilduff (University of Cambridge)
Lasting nearly eight years - from 1954 to 1962 - and costing nearly one and a half million lives, the Algerian War of Independence was a violently complicated conflict. However, the war remained in many ways, invisible, absent from French cinema screens throughout the years of the war, and plagued by a sort of representative invisibility afterwards, never entering, according to cultural historian Benjamin Stora, “la mémoire collective française” (Frodon 2004: 76). Mehdi Charef’s 2007 film Cartouches Gauloises explores the ‘summer of ’62’ - the exact date rendered explicit in the English-language title of the film - through the eyes of a young child: Ali. Telling the story of a community, from Harki soldiers to Jewish neighbours, Algerian prostitutes and those against decolonization, the film offers us access to the pre-Independence world of Algiers as seen and experienced by Ali through often larger-than-life characters underlining the heterogeneous and multifaceted nature of the debate. Ali goes about his life as a child all while infiltrating the world of the ‘adults’, spanning a liminal space of windows, doorways, and hidden spaces. An often silent figure, he hears but above all bearing visual witness to events: he sees, and through his gaze, makes seen. The film projects childhood experiences - den-building, game-building - on to the backdrop of historical events offering an understanding of the events of the period through the eyes of the child. Charef, the film-maker, was a child at the time that he depicts in this film and has spoken openly about the autobiographical and autofictional resonances. The double status of the child in Cartouches Gauloises - autobiographical avatar and liminal agent - allows us to question the role of the child as witness of trauma, a figure both of excavation and reparation.
Hannah Kilduff is the currently the Temporary Lecturer in French at Trinity College, Cambridge, where she contributes to teaching on Francophone literature and cinema. She is also completing her PhD on Francophone and North African cinema. Prior to this, she taught in Toulouse, and spent a year as a lectrice in the Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier III. She is interested in intimacy and the senses in French and Franco-Maghrebian films.