Queer representation in Arab and Middle Eastern Films: A case study of women in Caramel (2007), Circumstance (2011), and In Between (2016)
Abdel Karim, Maria
Film and Screen Media, University College Cork
Queer representations have been present since the 1930s in Arab and Middle Eastern cinema, albeit always in coded forms. However, the idea of homosexuality or queerness in the Middle East is still not tolerated due to religious, political, social and cultural reasons. Middle Eastern filmmakers who represent homosexual relations in their films could face consequences ranging from censorship to punishment by the State or religious extremists. This article explores the representation of lesbians in three transnational Middle Eastern women’s films: Caramel (Sukkar banat, 2007) by Nadine Labaki, set in Lebanon, Circumstance (2011) by Maryam Keshavarz, set in Iran, and In Between (Bar Bahar, 2016) by Maysaloun Hamoud, set in Israel/Palestine. It analyses the position the female lesbian protagonists occupy in the narrative structure and their treatment within the cinematic discourse. The article will examine mise-en-scène elements and compare each director’s stylistic and directorial approach in representing homosexuality within different social and cultural contexts. It will also prompt discussions related to queer identity, queer feminism, women’s cinema, audience reception and spectatorship within the Middle East.
Middle Eastern cinema , Queer representations , Women’s cinema , Women filmmakers , Queer identity
Abdel Karim, M. (2021) 'Queer representation in Arab and Middle Eastern Films: A case study of women in Caramel (2007), Circumstance (2011), and In Between (2016)', Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media, 20, pp. 71-86. doi: 10.33178/alpha.20.06