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People in Film: Yasmina Khadra

Dec 31, 2012

Yasmina Khadra is the pseudonym of Algerian writer Mohammed Moleshule, who revealed his real identity in 2001 after leaving the Algerian Army and moving to France. He is one of the most famous writers in the French and Arabic language, whose work has been widely translated, adapted to the big screen and received multiple awards. Moleshule was a jury member for the Arab Film Competition at DTFF 2012 and this allowed DFI’s editorial team to discuss his growing body of work.

DFI: How do you feel when you see your novels depicted on the big screen?

Moleshule: It is really interesting to see my work on the big screen since it has a different perspective when adapted into a film. Less people these days are reading books of literature and prefer to watch and contribute to films since this is easier for many audiences and is considered more entertaining. But this must not eliminate the process of reading the novel itself. Yes sometimes, watching a film may encourage the viewer to read the original story, which is good. But there is a risk here, because the novelist has a specific vision for his work and the screenwriter or director may have a different one; thus there is not one vision of the original, rather the script takes on many voices.

DFI: Throughout the process of adaptation, is there collaboration with the director to ensure your ideas are reflected on screen?

Moleshule: Usually, there is a big difficulty in achieving this. In the recent film ‘What the Day Owes the Night’, I was not totally satisfied with the perspective of the film, which was an adaption of my novel. But in general the film was fine, as it is a continually evolving process that produces better collaborations.

DFI: How do you see your writing develop in the future?

Moleshule: My craft is always in a process of evolution, I haven’t reached my peak yet, and my journey is one that is ongoing. However, I consider myself at a higher level than in the first few years of my writing—in terms of developing the text and storytelling. This process of refinement is influenced by gaining greater expertise and the drive to push the boundaries of my craft.

DFI: You are a renowned novelist, but have you written directly for the big screen?

Moleshule: Yes I wrote three scripts, one in France, one in Algeria and the last in the USA. The production of the American film will start next February. I am a big film fan and wrote many books that are used to create films such as ‘What the Day Owes the Night’, ‘The Swallows of Kabul’ and ‘Morituri’. The relationship between literature and cinema is deeply connected; all kinds of art are interrelated and complete each other. The richest works of literature often make the best films.

DFI: How do you evaluate your participation at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival?

Moleshule: The festival is an exciting initiative; our Arab nations are in need of a real home of creativity. Qatar and DFI have the capabilities to allow Arab talent to be recognised on the world stage. The Arab artist must return to various forms of art and rediscover creativity to showcase their abilities to the world. This festival allows us to show some of these capabilities and acts as a platform for collaboration. I am really thankful to DFI for hosting me and highlighting my work, it is an influential chance to promote culture and art throughout the region. DTFF is a festival that Arabs are proud of –and it will hopefully help build a homeland for cinema in the Arab world, similar to Hollywood. Qatar has all the skills and ingenuity needed to fulfill this vision and thankfully DFI took the initiative to start developing a sustainable film industry.

DFI: Do you have any collaborations planned for the future?

Moleshule: I have many projects to finalise in the coming months. I am the director of the Arab Centre of Culture in Paris, thus I am always working on many books and projects. Ultimately, I am eager to help and collaborate with other Algerian and North African writers; as this will elevate my craft and help further enhance Arab literature.

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