Actively engaged in promoting and spreading cinema in Algeria, Laila Aoudj advocates for the emergence of a new generation of film-makers in her country. And she’s not afraid to step into the fray, making films of her own.
Of Algerian descent, Laila Aoudj studied at EM Strasbourg Business School, then at Fémis Film School. She then set out to promote cinema, taking over as artistic director of the Rencontres cinématographiques de Béjaia Film Festival in 2015. For five years, she contributed to the rise of this now must-attend event in the Algerian film landscape.
She also founded Dima Cinema in 2019 with Amine Hattou. It is dedicated to bringing out an alternative film distribution channel. Always alert to political developments in her country, she has embarked on a documentary project, Passé simple, looking back at the 1990s, one of the darkest periods in contemporary Algerian history, thirty years down the line.
In each of the causes she has espoused, Laila Aoudj shows a fierce determination to defend film-makers’ freedom of expression and the uniqueness of their perspective. In 2018, when the Ministry of Culture refused to issue her visa for the screening of Fragments de rêve by director Bahïa Bencheikh-El-Fegoun at the Rencontres cinématographiques de Béjaia, Laila Aoudj responded resoundingly – by having the festival stopped.
The following year, the Festival programmed the work again, alongside multiple works telling of the hirak movement that was shaking the country, including: Awal Ayta by Rami Aloui and Nadir Mohammedi (2019) and Vendredi est une fête, by Samir Ardjoum and Ager Oueslati (2019).
Laila Aoudj sees her role as curator as opening audiences to the world. Whether the Rencontres cinématographiques de Béjaïa, or the Dima Cinéma programme, she gives centre stage to foreign films, to show them to audiences who have sometimes rarely set foot in a cinema.
Above all, she asserts herself as a fervent advocate for the emancipation of Algerian cinema at a key moment in its history, contributing to the worldwide dissemination of fragile but invaluable works by young local talents. One such example came in 2020 when, invited by the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, she proposed to screen Sarah Nacer's medium-length film, Qu'ils partent tous (2020), a burning testimony to the hopes that drove the pacifist demonstrators during the "hirak" in the spring of 2019.
Laila Aoudj becomes artistic director of the Rencontres cinématographiques de Béjaia.
She suspends the Rencontres cinématographiques de Béjaia following the government ban on showing the documentary Fragments de rêve.
Laila Aoudj founds the collaborative Dima Cinéma initiative with Amine Hattou.
In residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, she writes her first documentary, Passé simple.
In the context of the Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Institut Français wishes to continue offeringyou portraits, meetings with creators fromall walks of life, works and portfolios. We hope these few pages will bring some breathing space back into an everyday shaped by lockdown.
Laila Aoudj was selected by the Institut français of Algeria for a three-month residency at the Cité internationale des arts, extended until early May. She was also invited to the Cinéma du Réel festival in March, of which the Institut français is a partner.
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