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When Are Films Political? Tunisia Today

When Are Films Political? Tunisia Today

Producer Tarak Ben Ammar will produce a feature about the now iconic Tunisian figure Mohamed Bouaziz whose actions, when he set himself on fire to protest about unemployment and the lack of freedoms in Tunisia, set off a historic chain of events that led to the Jasmin Revolution in Tunisia and the overthrow of Tunisian President Zein El-Abedin Ben Ali. Bouazizi’s act of self-sacrifice has led to shockwaves across the Arab world and seen him proclaimed as a hero and martyr across the region. The current protesters in Egypt and other parts of North Africa and the Middle East have all cited Bouazizi as an inspiration in their own demands for liberty in their countries.

“Mohamed Bouazizi has become a hero for us as Tunisians and the Arab world as a whole. He performed the ultimate self-sacrifice and in doing so he opened up the eyes and heart of a nation to the injustice all around them. What’s more, he did that by sacrificing himself, not by hurting anyone else,” said Tarak Ben Ammar. “His call for freedom, dignity and jobs has become a rallying cry for the youth across the whole region. His story is one that needs to be preserved for future generations to understand that one person can make a difference. His brave, tragic and inspirational actions were the catalyst for the historic scenes we are currently witnessing across the Arab world as the people unite and demand their freedom. “

Ben Ammar will be making full consultations with the family of Mohamed Bouazizi to gain their blessing for the project. All profits from the film will go to Mohamed Bouazizi’s family. The project, which will be filmed entirely in Tunisia, will go into production later this year with a view to receiving its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.

The film will be a political thriller in the mould of Costa-Gavras’ classic “Z” and Gillo Pontecorvo’s “The Battle of Algiers”.

Ben Ammar, a nephew of Tunisia’s first ever independent President Habib Bourguiba, was in Tunisia during the recent revolution as he completed production on his upcoming feature film. Jean-Jacques Annaud’s Black Gold.

Ben Ammar’s Nessma TV, launched in 2008 as the first private and genuinely independent satellite channel catering to the North African market, has played a pivotal role in the events in Tunisia and helping steer the country in its transition towards freedom and democracy.

Nessma was the first media outlet to break the taboo on freedom of expression in Tunisia when it aired a special report on the demonstrations in Sidi Bouzid on December 30. The show aired completely uncensored and unedited. As a result Nessma was threatened with being shut down by the former President and the channel’s general manager was threatened with jail.

“We stood firm because we believed that the people of Tunisia, North Africa and the rest of the world deserved to see the truth about the martyr Mohamed Bouazizi, God rest his soul, and the events in the country,” said Ben Ammar. “It was unprecedented for an Arab channel to have such coverage, with no taboos, no censorship, no agenda and no lies. As a child I witnessed the independence of my country when my uncle Habib Bourguiba liberated Tunisia from the French. We are now at another defining moment in our history.”

Ben Ammar also co-produced Rachid Bouchareb’s Oscar-nominated film Outside The Law, which recounts the Algerian struggle for independence again French colonialism. Outside The Law was shot in Ben Ammar’s studios in Tunisia and was edited in his labs in France. Ben Ammar is also distributing the film in Italy and the Middle East.

About Quinta Communications:
Quinta Communications, founded in 1990 by Tarak Ben Ammar, is the only fully integrated, multi-platform entertainment company formed and run by an Arab that has successfully established itself in Europe and North America as well as the Middle East and North Africa. Tarak Ben Ammar has overseen an ever-expanding infrastructure that now includes theatrical distribution operations in France (Quinta) and Italy (Eagle Pictures), production studios (Empire Studios, Carthago Film Studios in Tunisia and Cinema City with Luc Besson in France), post-production (LTC, Scanlab, Duran Duboi, Eclair Group) and TV Networks (Nessma TV covering the Maghreb as well as Sport Italia and the DFree digital bouquet in Italy). Tarak Ben Ammar is also a board member of The Weinstein Company, Telecom Italia and Mediobanca.

In 2010, Quinta co-produced two major feature films: Rachid Bouchareb’s “Outside The Law,” about the Algerian struggle for independence from French colonial rule, received its world premiere in competition at the Cannes Film Festival.

Quinta also co-produced Julian Schnabel’s “Miral,” based on Rula Jebreal’s biographical account of Palestinian woman Hend Husseini’s establishment of the Dar El Tifl orphanage following the 1948 partition of Palestine and establishment of the state of Israel. The film received its world premiere in competition at Venice Film Festival.

Quinta is currently in production on Jean-Jacques Annaud’s epic feature film “Black Gold”, the story of the rivalry between two Emirs in Arabia in the 1930’s just as oil is being discovered, and the rise of a young, dynamic leader who unites the various tribes of the desert kingdoms. It stars Antonio Banderas, Tahar Rahim, Mark Strong, Freida Pinto, Riz Ahmed and Liya Kebede and will be released at the end of the year by Warner Bros and Universal Pictures.

Quinta Communications: Ali Jaafar, alijaafar AT, +44 7917882843

Operations Manager – Independent Film Division
Tel : +44 (0) 203 008 5846
Mobile : +44 (0) 7835 145 443
Fax : +44 (0) 203 008 5844

Quinta Communications
42, Brook Street – London W1K 5DB – UK

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