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Alia Syed
Spoken language and the act of mark making are important elements in Syed's films and reveal the influence of feminist film-makers like Trin T.Min-ha and Lis Rhodes and black film-makers like Isaac Julien.

The spoken voice is countered with the fragmented body: a pregnant belly, a dancer's pair of hands, a row of feet walking across a station platform. It appears in different ways in all of Syed's films but those differences are most evident if we compare Fatima's Letter 1992 and Spoken Diary 1998.

The first of these films is deeply influenced by Lis Rhodes' Light Reading 1977 that uses the idea of a personal narrative to create confusion between fact and fiction, personal memory and historical document as a means of undermining patriarchy's silencing of women's experiences.

Syed draws on the film's techniques of optical printing, of using a voice-over against a dark screen to open the film and the notion of repetition to unravel collective history through a personal narrative. They are brought into alliance with experimental Black films like the Sankofa Film Collective's Territories 1984 and Black Audio and Film Collective's Handsworth Songs 1987.

Still from Spoken Diary by Alia Syed, 2001
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