Seekers of Oblivion

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Biography Documentary directed by Raja Amari and published by Arab Film Distribution in 2004 - Arabic and French narration

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Image: Seekers-of-Oblivion-2004-Cover.jpg

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Directed by Raja Amari, "Seekers of Oblivion" explores the exciting life and adventures of Isabelle Eberhardt. Born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1877, Isabelle left Europe for North Africa at a young age. While there, she consorted with tramps, prostitutes, soldiers, murderers and thieves, at times masquerading as a man in order to gain access to social sectors that were off limits to women. Her enigmatic character continues to seduce, fascinate and astound even today – while defying any easy classification.

"No, I am not a politician, I am not the agent of any party… I am nothing but an eccentric, a dreamer…who wants to live far from the world, to live a free and nomad’s life in order to then try and share what she has seen and maybe convey to others the melancholic and charmed shudder she feels in front of the sad splendors of the Sahara. That’s all." – Isabelle Eberhardt

Many are the faces of Isabelle Eberhardt. Is she someone with multiple personalities or are these multiple visions of a romantic and impervious character which has seduced, kindled suspicion, and astounded with her very special belonging to the orient?

Dressed as a man, calling herself Si Mahmoud Essadi, Eberhart travelled in Arabic society, with a freedom she could not otherwise have experienced. She had converted to the austere Wahabbi form of Islam and regarded it as her true calling in life ("I feel now much that I'm much more deeply a Muslim than I was an anarchist"). However, as with much else in her life, there was a contradiction here in her nature. Her frequent drinking, drug-taking, and sexual freedom--and her travelling as a man--would all be frowned upon.

On her travels she made contact with a secret Sufi brotherhood, the Qadiriyya. They were heavily involved in helping the poor and needy while fighting against the injustices of colonial rule. At the beginning of 1901, in Behima, she was attacked by a man with a sabre, in an apparent attempt to assassinate her. Her arm was nearly severed, but she later forgave the man and (successfully) pleaded for his life to be spared. She married Slimane Ehnni, an Algerian soldier, on October 17, 1901, in Marseille.

On October 21, 1904, Eberhardt died in a flash flood in Aïn Séfra, Algeria. After a long separation, her husband had just joined her. She had rented a house for the occasion. This house, constructed of clay, collapsed in the flood. Her husband, Slimane Ehnni, died in 1907.

Raja Amari has a Diploma in scriptwriting (Fémis), Masters in French literature and Baccalaureate in literature. In addition to "Seekers of Oblivion," she has directed the short film "April" and the feature film "Red Satin." She also wrote "The Laws of Inertia: A play for the Betty Nansen Theater" (Denmark) and "The Sand that Sings," a radio play for France Culture radio station. Seekers of Oblivion was shown at the 2006 Women Pioneers Film Festival, Al Kasaba Theatre and Cinematheque, in Ramallah, Palestine.

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  • Source: NTSC DVDRip
  • Duration: 1h 1mn
  • Dimensions: 672x384 (16/9)
  • Framerate: 29.970 fps
  • Codec: XviD @ 1485 Kbps (BVOP)
  • Audio: MP3 @ 84 Kbps (VBR)
  • Language: French and Arabic
  • Subtitles: English (hardsubbed)

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