Interviewing a cinema legend
Sara Mosher, UND assistant professor of French, got a rare chance recently to interview and study the subject of her research up close and personal.
Mosher’s current research projects include the cinematographic productions of Franco-Algerian filmmaker Yamina Benguigui and the analysis of Simone de Beauvoir’s collaborative work titled “Djamila Boupacha.”
A highlight of her research took place this fall, when Mosher traveled to Paris to conduct a definitive live interview with Benguigui, becoming the first American academic to do so. Benguigui is famous throughout Europe for her stunning three-hour documentary about immigrants in France.
“When I came to UND, I was delighted to learn, through the Alice T. Clark Scholars Mentoring Program, that the University had these new awards for faculty members in their first three years of work,” she said.
“After I had the funds secured, I immediately wrote to Yamina Benguigui and requested an interview,” Mosher said. “I met with her in Paris, and we sat down and talked for an hour and 15 minutes. I asked her about the creative process, and we talked about women filmmakers in the Arab world, especially the French-speaking Arab world.”
Mosher’s research interest started when she first read the autobiography of Simone de Beauvoir, one of France’s most celebrated writers. Her seminal “The Second Sex” — a detailed look at women’s oppression — is considered a founding tract of modern feminism.
Mosher brings to her research and teaching four years of living in France and Switzerland, including a year of study at the Sorbonne and two years teaching at the University of Lyon.
“The French students talked about everyday topics, like you’d expect from
20-somethings; but students from former African colonies and students of immigrant parents told incredible stories about the legacy of colonialism that really affected me. I started interviewing immigrants or French-born children of immigrants, and then I knew that I wanted to be an autobiography specialist, especially the autobiographies of women.
“Now in my research I look at how women express themselves autobiographically,” Mosher said. “I also look at filmmakers, such as Yamina Benguigui, and see how she’s able to weave biographical stories in with her own autobiography through lens and screen.”
Juan Pedraza | Staff Writer