Institute of Historical Studies
Institute of Historical Studies

IHS Hosts Salem Brahimi, Award-Winning Filmmaker, for Genealogies of Freedom Conference

Mon, April 15, 2019
IHS Hosts Salem Brahimi, Award-Winning Filmmaker, for Genealogies of Freedom Conference
Left: "Let Them Come" film poster. Right: The film's Director, Salem Brahimi

On Thursday, April 11, the Institute for Historical Studies in the Department of History hosted a screening of LET THEM COME, a film by director Salem Brahimi, at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz Theater in downtown Austin. The event was a special session of the Genealogies of Freedom conference organized by IHS on UT campus on April 11 and 12. Brahimi joined over 60 attendees for the screening and participated in a Q&A after the film, facilitated by Dr. Benjamin Brower, Associate Professor in the Department of History. The event was open to the public and included UT Austin faculty, staff, and students, as well as conference presenters and community members.

Brahimi-BrowerSalem Brahimi is an Algerian and French producer and director. He co-directed with Chergui Kharroubi the feature length documentary “Africa is Back” about the 2009 Panafrican Festival of Algiers and in 2013 directed “Abd El Kader,” a feature documentary co-written with Audrey Brasseur that mixes live action documentary with animation. His direction for « Maintenant ils peuvent venir » / “LET THEM COME” won four awards: the Muhr Special Jury Prize for a Feature Film and Muhr Award for Best Fiction Feature at the Dubai International Film Festival (2015); the New Directors Award at the Kosmorama, Trondheim Internasjonale Filmfestival (2016); and the New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prise at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (2016). Image left: Professor Benjamin C. Brower facilitates a post-screening audience Q&A.

LET THEM COME (2015, Algeria, with English subtitles) depicts Algeria’s “dark decade” of the 1990s, when the country entered into a torturous civil war, which was most often a war on civilians. The film was produced by Michèle Ray Gavras and Costa Gavras (director of Z, 1969). The film is based on the book Maintenant ils peuvent venir (2002) by Arezki Mellal. In Brahimi’s words, “My film is above all a family chronicle, a story that would have been a simple one if barbarity had not come crashing into it, into the film and into the history of Algeria. A simple story that goes wrong.”
 
The 2019 IHS Conference convened local and international scholars to examine the theme of “freedom,” building upon the inherent tension and historical instability of the word and treating this as an intellectual and political problem of considerable interest to our world today. The conference gathered preeminent scholars and intellectuals who pointed to how understandings of freedom have changed over time and across space, looking particular at the Francophone world and Europe, Asia, Latin America, the U.S., and Middle East. “Genealogies of Freedom” showcased the scholarship of two dozen leading historians and scholars of Geography, Anthropology, Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, African and African Diaspora Studies, Asian Studies, South Asian Studies, and Legal Studies. Enzo Traverso, Susan and Barton Winokur Professor in the Humanities at Cornell University, offered the keynote, titled “The Twisted Path of Freedom: A Historical Perspective.”

Story by Gwendolyn Lockman, Ph.D. Student, University of Texas at Austin. 

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