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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