New York – Algiers: Journey through an Era
When Elaine Mokhtefi published her memoirs, she had been exiled from Algeria for 44 years. Released in 2018 by Verso, the book’s title Algiers, Third World Capital: Freedom Fighters, Revolutionaries, Black Panthers only hints at an extraordinary life shaped by engagement with liberation movements which had captured the global imagination in the 1960s. By sharing her tale of anti-colonial activism – from her friendship with Frantz Fanon, and her work in the Algerian Media Office at the UN at the height of the war against France, to her role in organizing the legendary 1969 Panaf festival, and her work with the Black Panther Party’s International Section in Algiers – Elaine (née Klein), a born New Yorker, struck a chord with a young generation hungry for new political imaginaries. On the wave of the success of her memoirs, in 2019 she was allowed back into Algeria, arriving in time to witness the country’s political awakening, the hirak movement.
In conversation with filmmaker Mila Turajlić (2020-2021 Fellow) Mokhtefi retraces the legacy and lessons of an era. The exchange will be illustrated with clips of material from an upcoming documentary about Elaine, filmed during their recent trip to Algiers, where they revisited important sites, most memorably Frantz Fanon’s house in Blida.
*On Sunday, October 8th, at 1:45 pm at the Reflet Medicis, Elaine Mokhtefi and Mila Turajlić will be present for a Q&A with the audience, following a special screening of Ciné-Guerrillas: Scenes from the Labudović Reels (90’, 2022).The documentary, in which Elaine appears, explores the way cinema was harnessed by the Algerian liberation movement to win a diplomatic revolution.
The film was edited at Columbia University’s Institute for Ideas and Imagination at Reid Hall, and will be released theatrically in France in November.
Elaine Mohktefi in front of the villa that housed the Black Panther Party International Section, December 2022