Tunisia Chikly show, pioneering photographer and filmmaker – Culture

TUNIS – As part of the third edition of the ‘Manarat’ Mediterranean Film Festival, the Fadhek Ben Achour cultural center in La Marsa inaugurated an important photographic exhibition dedicated to Samama Chikly. He was “a pioneer of the seventh art, photographer, technophile, adventurer and biker; the artist was free and versatile”. This is how the organizers of the show, Ciné-Sud Patrimoine and the National Center for Cinema and Image (CNCI) describe it.

Born in Tunis in 1872, Samama Chikly is famous for producing and directing the short film “Zohra” in 1922. It is considered the first Tunisian fiction film, of which only a 9-minute version exists today. which is incomplete. The curiosity that animated Chikly turned him into a reporter and in this role he followed the most important events that were taking place at the time outside Tunisia, such as the Italo-Ottoman war in Tripolitania, the earthquake in Messina in 1909 and the First World War. Thanks to his camera and his films, the director was able to capture a changing world, as was also happening in Tunisia where change led the country to independence from France in 1956.

“Despite the fact that most of Chikly’s work has been lost, he left an invaluable legacy: a memory through images and films, not only of Tunisia at the time, but of many other countries in the world”, writes the curator of the exhibition, Mohamed Challouf, adding that “his films, like his images, reveal an undeniable talent, a clear awareness of the immense power of cinema and this represents his modern way of thinking. and free, just like his daughter Haydée, who became his great accomplice, the actress and main scriptwriter of his films”.

The exhibition at La Marsa is therefore a tribute to a great artist, a pioneer of Tunisian cinema and to his daughter Haydée Tamzali, first an actress, then an editor and scriptwriter of Tunisian cinema. All images come from the Samama Chikly Fund which, since 2015, has been held at the Bologna Cinematheque in Italy where the images are digitized and restored. Other archives of world-renowned directors are also kept here, including those of Charlie Chaplin, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Buster Keaton and Vittorio De Sica. The exhibition will be open until September 15, it was produced thanks to the collaboration of the Ciné-Sud Patrimoine Association and the National Center of Cinema and Image with the significant support of the Bologna Cinematheque.

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