African Filmmaking by Roy Armes

By Roy Armes

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But how actual, specific, socially and historically located people, and groups of people, themselves articulate their self-conceptions, their historical experience and their place in society. James McDougal1 2. BEGINNINGS North Africa has given us better wines than we could have imagined. 2 French actor Harry Baur, 1937 Colonial Cinema The cinema reached Africa at much the same time as it spread across Europe and the United States. There were film shows in Cairo and Alexandria as early as 1896, in Tunis and Fez in 1897, Dakar in 1900 and Lagos in 1903.

Between them, in the period 1986–96, CAAIC and ENPA were responsible for twenty-two features (an average of two a year), with Amar Laskri’s Vietnamese co-production, Lotus Flower/Fleur de lotus (1998), which was much delayed in production, emerging several years later. Many of these films were joint productions between the two companies and most were low-budget works – some in 16mm – primarily directed at a television market. The violent 1990s political turmoil in Algeria – what Benjamin Stora has called ‘the invisible war’, in which as many as 100,000 people may have died8 – drove many directors into exile in France and Italy.

When he is killed by their pursuers, she stabs herself and falls dead across his body. Chikly’s personal friend, the Bey of Tunis, provided extras, allowed the use of one of his palaces, and even visited the shooting on several occasions. The film’s theme of forced marriage and the use of a female protagonist (together with the particularly important role in the production played by Haydée Chikly) make The Girl from Carthage a fascinating precursor of the kind of Tunisian cinema which would come into being over forty years later.

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