This is a past event.

Zahra’s Mother Tongue

Zahra’s Mother Tongue

Fatima Sissani

Zahra’s Mother Tongue

Fatima Sissani

Zahra was born into a small Kabylie community in the Algerian mountains. She immigrated to France several years ago, but refuses to learn French. Her language is the basis of her identity and her most important legacy. Just as it is for thousands of immigrants.

Based on the film portrait of her mother, Fatima Sissani (born, 1970) looks at the value of words, so important to the cultural universe of Algerian immigrants in France. Often condemned to work in silent isolation, these immigrants find in the language of their homeland the possibility of returning to their roots, memories and histories.

A French-Algerian maker of films and documentaries, Sissani focuses on “minimal” stories about apparently secondary characters. Based on these narratives, she unveils the main geopolitical themes of our contemporary age: migration, exile and language. La Langue de Zahra (Zahra’s Mother Tongue), her debut documentary, has been presented at over twenty festivals and won several awards.

© Francisco Vidal. Zahra Mother Tongue © Fatima Sissani.

03 OCT 2019
THU 21:30

Small Auditorium and Live streaming
Free entry*
Duration 90 min

* Subject to availability. Tickets available on the day from 21:00 at the ticket-office

With portuguese subtitles

Cycle Colonial Memories


The debate about the memories of the colonial period has moved into the public arena and is now the subject of intense artistic production. The Colonial Memories cycle opens up yet more room for this theme, welcoming the people and projects involved in its continuous research.

The research groups AFRO-PORT Afro-descendants in Portugal (ISEG) and Memorialist Discourses and the Building of History (School of Arts and Humanities, University of Lisbon) will be presenting the lecture Politics of selective memory by the Moroccan historian Fatima Harrak. This is a reflection on the effects of “selective memory” in the present-day political world, in which the author defends the idea of an “entangled history” between the colonisers and the people that they colonised.

Everything passes, except the past is a programme about the colonial legacy in the public space, museums and archives of various European countries, led by the Goethe Institut. It is coming to Portugal in the form of a round-table discussion and a cycle of films and debates about the post-colonial film archives.

The project MEMOIRS — Children of the Empire and European Postmemories, which brings together researchers interested in comparing colonial memories in the French, Belgian and Portuguese contexts, will present a debate, a film session and a performance dealing with the same question: how are the memories of the end of colonialism manifested in social, cultural and artistic terms in Europe?

Colonialism and its consequences has been the preferred theme for the work of the Hotel Europa theatre company. André Amálio opens up his personal archive of interviews, books, videos, family photographs and war documents, and revisits his theatrical creations in the 13-hour-long performance of The End of Portuguese Colonialism. Culturgest also presents the world première of "Children of Portuguese Colonialism", a new production of Hotel Europa. The visual artist Francisco Vidal, with whom we worked on developing the image of the materials to be used for promoting this cycle, has also been asked to participate in this programme.

What have the people who lived through colonialism transmitted to contemporary generations? Colonial Memories is an invitation to engage in this reflection.



Fatima Harrak: Politics of selective memory
SET 19 THU 18:30

Everything passes, except the past
SET 24 TUE 18:30

Hotel Europa: The end of Portuguese colonialism (installation) 
SET 25 WED — 27 FRI 11:00 - 18:30
SET 28 SAT — 29 SUN 15:00 - 18:30

Reimagine the post-colonial archives
SET 25 WED 21:30
SET 26 THU 21:30
SET 27 FRI 18:30 

African memories of Portugal
SET 26 THU 18:30

Hotel Europa: The Children of Colonialism
SET 26 THU 21:00
SET 27 FRI 21:00
SET 28 SAT 19:00

Arts in Europe in postmemory era
OUT 3 THU 18:30

Fatima Sissani: Zahra's Mother Tongue
OUT 3 THU 21:30

Hotel Europa: The end of Portuguese colonialism (performance)
OUT 5 SAT 11:00 – 0:00


Co-funded by the Creative Europe programme project Create to Connect, Create to Impact

Create do Connect




Flanders State of the Art


Projeto MEMOIRS — Filhos do Império e Pós-memórias Europeias
(Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra)


Fatima Sissani


Olga Widmer


Olivier Krabbé


Anne Lecour


MEMOIRS is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (no. 648624) and is hosted at the Centre for Social Studies (CES), University of Coimbra.

Share Facebook / Twitter