Multimedia Collection

A Little for My Heart and a Little for My God: A Muslim Women's Orchestra

60 minutes
ML82 .S55 1993

Since in Algeria most women traditionally are not allowed to mix with men, female orchestras customarily entertain gatherings of women. When they play, women remove their veils and dance, away from the view of men. All summer long one can hear music from roof terraces and walled gardens as women celebrate engagements, weddings and the circumcision of their sons.

The meddahatts are women musicians whose profession is to perform for other women. Though they are much in demand, they are held in low esteem. Many of the performers are widowed or divorced and have fallen on hard times. But their earthy humor and erotic showmanship delights their normally constrained sisters.

This film is a portrait of one such orchestra. Only a woman filmmaker could have penetrated this closed environment and captured on film such a spontaneous and colorful portrait. Paradoxically, this orchestra includes Sid Ahmen and Amin, a gay couple. Nobody seems to question their presence, the only men in an exclusively female world.

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