Film directors typically speak by csgirla

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									 Cinema                                                                              14 North Africa Times                             Sunday 14-20/10/2007


Thirtieth, by Fadel El-Jaziri
Carrying the Torch of Tunisia's History
By Rashid Hosni


F
       ilm directors typically speak                                                                                              precisely 105 minutes in length and
       about their films after produc-                                                                                             performed in the dual languages of
       tion has ceased and the movie                                                                                              French and Arabic. It is set to re-
is in its near final edit. Tunisian di-                                                                                            ceive extensive funding and support
rector Fadel El-Jaziri has broken                                                                                                 from Tunisia's Ministry of Culture,
the trend, however, holding a press                                                                                               the Tunisian Radio and Television
seminar on Monday 4th September                                                                                                   Institute, the Tunisian Electricity
at the lecture hall of Tunisia's Elec-                                                                                            and Gas Company, and the Tarek bin
tricity and Gas headquarters.                                                                                                     Ammar Institute. The latter organi-
    Shooting for his new film, Thir-                                                                                               zation has offered its studios for use
tieth, began a few days ago. The                                                                                                  by El-Jaziri's team in recognition of
movie tackles the march of Tunisian                                                                                               the project's status as a valuable his-
reformist Al-Taher El-Hadad and his                                                                                               torical tribute.
followers who influenced Tunisia's                                                                                                     The movie has also received en-
1930’s epoch. This period in Tuni-                                                                                                couragement from various Algerian
sian history was witness to a series                                                                                              TV and cinema institutes and other
of bitter political and social events                                                                                             international organizations. Their
that were accentuated by the conse-                                                                                               outspoken support for The Thirtieth
quences of European colonization.                                                                                                 project is a testament to its poten-
                                                                                                                                  tially great artistic value. This also
Selective Methods                                                                                                                 demonstrates respect for the Tuni-
    The film's director explains that                                                                                              sian social and cultural movement
he has been selective about the po-                                                                                               and its overall impact upon the local,
litical, social and cultural transpira-   El Jaziri will acteur Mohamed Ghanem Zrelli (Bougriba)
                                                                                                                                  Arab, and wider world.
tions he would cover in the movie.
Its length has necessitated certain                                                                                               Arab Faces and Future Projects
limits, says El-Jaziri, and he has                                                                                                    Whilst the film's director has as-
consequently chosen to sacrifice                                                                                                   serted that he enjoys working with
certain incidents in favour of others.                                                                                            his fellow countrymen, family and
The assassination of Mohammad                                                                                                     friends, the artistic and technical
El-Doghbagi, for example, is con-                                                                                                 contributions credited in the film re-
sidered to have been the launchpad                                                                                                veal some new and unfamiliar Arab
for the Tunisian struggle for inde-                                                                                               faces. Amongst these are Jorda-
pendence; however, the director has                                                                                               nian Ali Maher an Palestinian Rami
referred to the incident only through                                                                                             Hafana, in ddition to several Tuni-
a song praising the champion for his                                                                                              sian professionals like Mohammad
deeds.                                                                                                                            Idris, Mohammad Koka, Issa Har-
    Preparation of the film's script                                                                                               ath, Saber El-Hami and more.
took around three years to complete.                                                                                                  The project is certainly promis-
Fadel wrote the story alongside Tu-                                                                                               ing and has raised hopes for future
nisian novelist Arousia Al-Naloty,                                                                                                large-scale works to follow its am-
who has referred to the task of re-                                                                                               bitious template. El-Jaziri has also
counting the tale of such a promi-                                                                                                showed of scenes of an animated
nent figure in Tunisia's reform as                                                                                                 feature called The Pictured Tale,
“difficult”. Plenty of reference ma-                                                                                               which the director revealed consists
terial on the life of Al-Taher El-Ha-                                                                                             of over 2400 separate frames of ani-
dad exists, admits Al-Naloty citing                                                                                               mation. The director presented the
                                          The movie tackles the march of Tunisian reformist Al-Taher El-Hadad and his followers
numerous historical texts, poems                                                                                                  film during a press seminar to ex-
and novels. The difficulty, she ex-                                                                                                press his support for a possible car-
plains, lies in capturing the essence                                                                                             toon adaptation of The Thirtieth.
of minute details whilst integrating                                                                                                  The director's response to to cer-
milestones, building a coherent plot                                                                                              tain questions has been somewhat
line and successfully engaging the                                                                                                indirect, especially in regard to his
audience's attention.                                                                                                             choice of granting the starring role
                                                                                                                                  to his son, Ali Al-Jaziri. Regarding
Entrusted With History                                                                                                            the source of the film's soundtrack,
   El-Jaziri affirms that he is fully                                                                                              he has ambiguously stated that he
aware of his latest project's magni-                                                                                              'prepares' the music himself. He has
tude. He has vowed to apply strin-                                                                                                also sidestepped the question as to
gent standards in quality and mod-                                                                                                why he has neglected to include the
ern production techniques whilst                                                                                                  character of poet Beiram Al-Tunsi.
simultaneously retaining a sense                                                                                                  The poet had a profound and inex-
of authenticity and respect for the                                                                                               tricable affect upon events in both
source material.                                                                                                                  Tunisia and the wider Arab world,
   The Thirtieth is the first Tunisian                                                                                             and his omission has been regarded
movie to adopt the 35 millimeter film                                                                                              by many as somewhat baffling.
standard. Upon finalization, the film                                                                                                   Taking into account certain res-
is expected to screen at the Cannes                                                                                               ervations regarding the director's
film festival during 2008. This will                                                                                               approach, it remains to be seen
be after it performs the rounds on                                                                                                whether The Thirtieth will enjoy the
Tunisian and Algerian television                                                                                                  critical and commercial success that
and gets distributed amongst North                                                                                                Al-Gazeiri has dreamed of achiev-
African cinemas. The movie will be                                                                                                ing for the last 17 years.

								
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