Hollywood Harems

A film by Tania Kamal-Eldin

Egypt | 1999 | 24 minutes | Color | DVD | Subtitled | Order No. 00665


"Tania Kamal-Eldin has once again produced a stunning video, a half-hour documentary, this time taking critical aim at Hollywood's abiding fascination with and fantasies about all things east. Juxtaposing film clips from the 20s through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Kamal-Eldin explores the organization of gender, race, and sexuality in Hollywood's portrayal of the exotic east an indiscriminate fusion of things Arab, Persian, Chinese and Indian. She argues, convincingly, that in abridging cultural plurality and difference, these technicolor fantasies have worked both to shape and reinforce often derogative assumptions about peoples of the east while at the same time reinscribing the moral, spiritual, and cultural supremacy of the Anglo-European west. HOLLYWOOD HAREMS is skillfully crafted, well-paced technically adept production versatile and especially suitable for use in a variety of classroom settings."
Dr Valerie Hartouni, Director, Critical Gender Studies Program, University of California at San Diego


"'Hollywood Harems' is a video demanding that it be viewed twice: once for sheer chuckles and enjoyment, but again to trace the carefully developed themes of Orientalist portrayal of women in Hollywood's past feature films."

Ellen Fairbanks-Bodman University of North Carolina

"Effectively cuts through to the heart of the matter--the pernicious objectification of women by race and gender. Useful in courses on women and ethnic studies as well as national and world cinema."

Zeinabu Irene Davis Independent filmmaker and educator

"Opens new windows on the shifting, often conflicted set of paradigms that have cast Middle Eastern women in fantastic, romanticized, racist and often destructive roles."

Dr. Elizabeth Newsome Visual Arts Department, University of California at San Diego


  • North African Women's Film Festival
  • Arab and Iranian Film Festival, Seattle, WA
  • Women in the Director's Chair
  • Reel Women Film Series, Northern Arizona University
  • Middle Eastern Studies Association Film Festival
  • Walker Art Center Women with Vision Festival


Tania Kamal-Eldin

Tania Kamal-Eldin is an independent filmmaker and educator. Her documentary productions focus on women and Middle Eastern issues with an emphasis on the complex interactions of gender, race and cross-cultural representation. Kamal-Eldin has an MFA in Visual Arts from University of California-San Diego where she was awarded the Jacob Javits Fellowship, as well as a MSC in Political Economy from the London School of Economics. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego, and Palomar College. She has published much fiction including co-authoring a book of short stories. Currently she is an Assistant Professor at American University, School of Communication in Film and Media Arts, in Washington D.C. (8/14)


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