Center for the Arts and Humanities

Bicycles, Garbage, and Cameras: Three Contemporary Middle Eastern Films

Spring 2018
Haverford College

The films in “Bicycles, Garbage, and Cameras” convey stories of perseverance in the face of gender inequality, hope despite ongoing wars and ruins, and survival in a global world. They portray how people in the Middle East negotiate the social, economic, and political challenges they face daily.

Sponsored by the Haverford College Department of Anthropology, the Concentration in Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, VCAM, and the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities’ Tuttle Fund for the Development of Visual Culture across the Curriculum.

All screenings are open to the public.

Organized by Zainab Saleh, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Haverford College


Someone giving a demonstration on recycling

Garbage Dreams, 2009, 83 minutes
Directed by Mai Iskander

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
4:30 p.m.
VCAM Screening Room 001

GARBAGE DREAMS is a 2009 feature length documentary film produced and directed by Mai Iskander. Filmed over the course of four years, it follows three teenage boys born into the trash trade and growing up in the world’s largest garbage village, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt.

A young Saudi girl stares longingly at bicycles

Wadjda, 2012, 98 minutes
Directed by Haifaa al-Mansour

Monday, March 19, 2018
4:30 p.m.
VCAM Screening Room 001

WADJDA is a movie of firsts. This first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia is the story of a young girl living in a suburb of Riyadh determined to raise enough money to buy a bike in a society that sees bicycles as dangerous to a girl's virtue. Even more impressive, WADJDA is the first feature film made by a female Saudi filmmaker. In a country where cinemas are banned and women cannot drive or vote, writer-director Haifaa al-Mansour has broken many barriers with her new film.

A woman stands in front of a board covered with photos and letters

Open Shutters: Our Feelings Took the Pictures, 2008, 102 minutes
Directed by Maysoon Pachachi

Monday, April 23, 2018
4:30 p.m.
VCAM Screening Room 001

For a month, a group of women from 5 cities in Iraq live and work together in a traditional courtyard house in Damascus. Everyday they are out on the streets of the Old City practicing their photography. Back in the house, they draw and present ‘life maps’ to each other, telling their stories with a rare honesty, with humor and grief and anger. They unearth memories, buried in the course of just trying to survive 30 years of war and sanctions. The experience transforms them and, back in Iraq, they shoot hundreds of photographs, each imbued with the sharp truth of lived experience.


Zainab Saleh

Zainab Saleh

Zainab Saleh, Ph.D. Sociocultural Anthropology, Columbia University, is Assistant Professor in Anthropology at Haverford College. Her research focuses on memory, nostalgia, belonging, war, and violence in Iraq and the Iraqi Diaspora. She examines the transformative impact that the US occupation of Iraq had on the  London-based Iraqi community’s social and political landscape. She is currently working on a manuscript entitled Inhabiting Destruction: Exile, Political Subjectivity, and the Iraqi Diaspora.