Archive of films Madam Osmane´s Harem / Le harem de Madame Osmane

2000, 100 min

Section: Maghreb
Year: 2002

Director Nadir Mokneche’s film debut is set in Algiers in 1993, at the beginning of the civil war. Madame Osmane, a former fighter for independence and house-owner, is unable to come to terms with her husband’s departure and, with the passing years, finds some consolation in tyrannising her daughter and the mostly female inhabitants of her house.


Director Nadir Mokneche’s film debut is set in Algiers in 1993, at the beginning of the civil war. Madame Osmane is an Arab woman who wears Nina Ricci outfits and Christian Dior sunglasses. But this isn’t the only thing which secures her exclusive position; she is also a former independence fighter and house-owner in Algiers. She is unable to come to terms with the passing of years and with the humiliation she suffered at the hands of her husband who left her for a French woman. Thus she finds certain consolation tyrannising the female inhabitants of her house. She is dealt a final blow by her twenty-five-year-old daughter who decides to marry a biology professor whose mother lives in a village and observes the traditional customs and respects the woman’s position in the family. Madame Osmane is alarmed at the idea that her daughter might leave her and decides to use all means possible to stop the wedding taking place. But, clearly, all the women in the house have had just about enough of Madame Osmane’s tyranny, thus the approaching misfortune seems inevitable.

About the director

Nadir Mokneche (1965, Paris), at the age of thirty-five, surprised the entire French-speaking world with his directorial debut Madame Osmane´s Harem (2000). He left Algiers, where he had been brought up only by his mother, at the age of eighteen. He first went to London, then to New York where he attended film courses and made two short films, Hanifa and Jardin. However, it was in Paris that he wrote the screenplay for the film Madame Osmane´s Harem.

About the film

Black & white, 35 mm

Section: Maghreb
Director: Nadir Mokneche
Screenplay: Nadir Mokneche
Dir. of Photography: Hélene Louvart
Editor: Stéphanie Mahet
Producer: Didier Haudepin
Production: Bloody Mary
Cast: Carmen Maura, Myriam Amarouchene, Linda Slimani, Nadia Kaci, Biyouna, Thamila Mesbah-Detraz, Andrée Damant, Atmen Kelif

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