This year marks the 50th anniversary of Algeria’s independence. To celebrate this momentous occasion, we will be hosting the first ever UK-based Algerian cultural festival. YouYouYouuuYee!
The festival will reflect on the colonial period and anti-colonial struggle, contemplate post-independence Algeria and examine legacies on a young nation looking ahead to a better future. It’ll also be a place to connect and have fun!
The day-long programme will feature a series of workshops, art exhibitions, culinary tastings, talks & discussions, film screenings, dance performances, and a diverse line-up of live music until the early morning.
Programme includes* (for a full visual outline of the programme, including speakers' and artists' profiles, please click here)
Midday - Doors open
Join us for an Algerian lunch, browse through our Algerian literature bookstall, mingle with artists in our expo space and cruise around Algeria through a large-screen diaporama.
Exhibiting artists: Houria Niati, Patrick Altes, Hassiba Hafiz Benkritly, Collection of photographers from Algeria and the UK.
Children’s space: Drumming & Arts Workshops (12pm - 1:30pm)
While mums and dads take a look at the art exhibitions we have in store and get a taste of our yummy Algerian food, we’ll be occupying the kids. We'll be having a drumming workshop, followed by an arts workshops (run by Karim and Houria respectively, two of our resident musician and artist on the day). Bring drums if you have some, we’re gonna be making some noise!
1:15pm - 2:15pm
“Africa rocks the Qasbah” (screening) followed by a “Algeria's revolution: a Panafricain perspective” talk with Mireille Mendes-France Fanon and Dr Leo Zeilig
Screening: “Africa Rocks The Qasbah”
A 30-minutes taster of a cult documentary-film that remains largely unknown. This film will transport you to 1969 Algiers, into the heart of one of the most gigantic and euphoric events of the decade: the first-ever Pan-African Cultural festival, a street festival which brought Africa’s wealth of folklore to the capital Alger La Blanche for many weeks.
Algeria, which inspired the entire world with its heroic revolutionary war against the French colonialists, came to be known in the 60s and 70s as a beacon of African and Third World militancy. From Vietnam to South Africa, its capital Algiers became the Mecca of revolutionaries who strived to bring down the imperialist and colonial order.
It is in that spirit, that Algiers hosted this momentous festival, presented by the Organisation of African Unity. Those who were present remember it as a remarkable explosion of creative energy where it was possible to rub shoulders with Black Panther Leaders, anti-colonial militants from every corner of the Third World, and renowned musicians who inspired Algerian art to seek roots in Africa: Nina Simone, Archie Shepp, Miriam Makeba and many others.
Talk: "Algeria's revolution: a Panafricain perspective”
This radical atmosphere is captured in the film, especially the recording of the free-form African-American saxophonist Archie Shepp in concert with a group of Tuareg musicians. This last event was one of the highest points of the festival as Shepp, in a ferocious and uncompromising set broke away from the constraints of the European-derived harmonic system and reconnected with the African roots of jazz. This vigorous cultural manifestation of the struggle of the dominated, this upward-springing trend, so well described in Frantz Fanon’s “The Wretched of the Earth” was so moving that Shepp proclaimed that in Algiers “Mother Africa has found her long-lost children”.
We are honoured to have Frantz Fanon’s daughter, Mireille Mendes-France Fanon (President of the Foundation Frantz Fanon) and Dr Leo Zeilig an expert on anti-colonial African revolutionaries, to reflect on this hopeful vision and optimistic times, to discuss Fanon’s ideas and the place of Algeria in the Pan-African unity and Third-Worldism struggles.
2:30pm – 4pm
Main talk - “Algeria: between the colonial past and legacies of independence, a nation looking ahead” (Panel + Q&A)
A thriving cultural scene is undeniably one barometer to measure a nation’s progress. In a light, yet thought-provoking discussion, a panel of experts on Algerian history and current affairs will reflect on the country’s predicament of culture and liberties under colonial administration then fast-forward the clock to independent Algeria and its stifled cultural, social and political realms.
Featuring: James McDougall, Ammar Kessab, Hamza Hamouchene.
4:15pm - 4:45pm
Diwan El Malouf (music)
Diwan El Malouf is the captivating mixture of Maghreb’s spiced rhythms. The trio engages their audience with the discovery of suave and intoxicating melodies. The harmonious notes are a blend of Issawa sacred songs, the frenzy of the Gnawa genre and the charms of traditional Maalouf music.
5pm – 6.30pm
"Prends Ta Place (Take Your Place)” and "Mollement, un Samedi matin (Softly One Saturday Morning)" screenings, followed by talk + Q&A
Screening: “Prends Ta Place (Take Your Place)”
In a series of shorts directed by young Algerian filmmaker Amina Zoubir, taboos surrounding women’s space, place and role in today’s Algeria are depicted in a highly observational fashion. During each episode, a female character wittily introduces herself into spaces traditionally reserved to men.
“Prends Ta Place” is at once a thought-teasing exercise on gender issues and a refreshing reminder of the potential social channels which could open up to allow a better interchange between the sexes in today’s Algeria.
Screening: Mollement, un Samedi matin (Softly One Saturday Morning)
Director Sofia Djama's portrait of the reality of modern-day Algeria. It's a film that denounces the discomfort and distress of Algerian society. This is not the “Algiers the white” that you see in postcards but of the suffering and choking of its population.
The talk + Q&A will be animated by Zahia Smail Salhi, a Senior Lecturer in Arabic Literature and Gender at the University of Leeds. The talk will focus on the history and struggle of women in contemporary Algeria.
6:30pm - 7:45pm: Break
7:45pm: doors re-open for evening event
Come and mingle at the bar and prepare yourself for an unforgettable night of live DZ-UK** music!
8pm – 8:30pm
“HarragaUK” (screening + short Q&A with director Slimane Ouguenoun)
A unique dive into the underworld of young Algerian illegal migrants in the UK. The film is rough in its cut just like the reality of thousands of youngsters driven by unthinkable despair to reach the British Eldorado.
Ouguenoun’s piece is a raw visual portrait of ordinary Algerians who stand powerless in the face of Britain’s immigration machinery, and whose lives in the UK do not easily escape the very limbo endured at home. Nevertheless, not all is black. Besides its sobering effect and the melancholy which marks its tone, the documentary is not devoid of laughter, banter and hope. Harraga ultimately underlines the enduring combativeness of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Director Slimane Ouguenoun will animate a brief Q&A after the screening.
8.45pm – 9:15pm
Farah's dance troupe
A collective of dancers representing various regions of Algeria. You will witness diversity in dress, rhythms and moves, set within a historical narrative. Get ready to take hip-shaking to the next level!
9:30pm - 1am
Live music - various artists
The festival party! a celebration of the diversity of traditional & contemporary Algerian musical heritage (Andalusian, Chaabi, Malouf, Indie, Rap and Rai) with a live performance by Algerian-origin UK-based artists: Al-Andalus Caravan, Sid Ahmed El Bahi, The Papers, Raouf Adear, YADi, Cheb Nacim, and more...). DJ Afrokazbah & DJ Ali will be rocking the decks in between.
*. Please kindly note that this programme is not final and will be updated as more artists confirm their participation. We reserve the right to make changes and alterations which may result in schedule changes. Please check closer to the date of the festival for the most up-to-date version.
**. DZ is the “street” country-code for Algeria. The abbreviation comes from the word ‘Djazair’, Algeria in the local dialect. There you go, two of the many new things you’ll learn about Algeria on the day -if you didn’t already know!-..
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The Algerian Cultural Festival is a community-led and not-for-profit event organised by the Algerian Cultural Collective (ACC): an independent, inclusive, and fast-growing collective of young professionals, students, and artists based in London with a passion for promoting Algeria’s rich cultural heritage in the UK and abroad. The Algerian Cultural Collective is proud to be supported by the Algerian Solidarity Campaign (ASC) as its official partner.