This article examines the societal place of the Algerian woman since the outbreak of the civil war in the early 1990s. The first two feature films by Algerian director Nadir Moknèche, Le Harem de Mme Osmane (2000) and Viva Laldjérie (2004), trace the end of the traditional harem and the initiation of a new social structure, which the author calls the modern harem, that manifests itself through a redefinition of masculine and feminine gender roles, a reconfiguration of social space and a recognition of the inevitable effects of modernisation. Modernity is presented as a response to the conservative atmosphere during this critical time period. The author's usage of 'moderne' in this article is therefore to be understood in its idiomatic use within the Maghrib, implying that which enters discourse as a product of globalization. The paper explores, within the context of Moknèche's films, what it means to be a modern woman in urban centres like Algiers, the director's city of choice.