Maghrebian cinema gets its own festival 3rd Maghrebian Film Festival of Nabeul, Tunisia, 7th > 11th September 2011
From the 7th to the 11th September the first edition of the newly established Festival of Maghrebian Cinema will take place in the city of Nabeul (North East of Tunisia). Professionals from the North African countries (but Egypt) are gathering in the very special after-revolution context.
The establishment of new cultural traditions is one of the signs of the changes following the uprisings in the region. Administration has to be flexible and let initiators do. It is no more time for political and bureacratic rigidity.
This is the case in the media for example. But it is also relevant for cultural events like film festivals which existence depended for a long time from the will of the prince and from the political vision of the former regime.
In this context, one could consider the birth of a festival dedicated to the cinema of the Maghreb in Tunisia. In fact it is a re-birth. The festival changed only its focus. It was called the Nabeul Film Nights; it is now re-baptized Maghrebian Film Festival of Nabeul.
Politics and culture
This shift is connected to the will to have a special vision. The festival was a kind of opportunity to create some animation in the touristic city on the northeastern coast of Tunisia. Cultural activities were not supposed to be connected to any political issue unless as a celebration.
The idea of a maghrebian cinema is naturally connected to the project of a geo-political regional union between five countries: Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania.
This was the mood in the 90's. Many institutions were created, but because of tensions between some leaders, it never went enough further.
At that time a festival of maghrebian cinema was created but it was only one edition and it was never possible to make it again, probably because it reminds people of the fail of the project. And this is a criticism that the regime did never allow: only positive things should be stressed, negative ones had to be hidden.
It is no more critical to talk about the maghrebian dimension for two reason at least: on the one hand, those who used to block are never more in power, and on the other hand, the actual regime in Tunisia needs to show the margin of liberty it gives to civil society.
As far as it works
In this context we witness the re-birth of a maghrebian film festival in Tunisia thanks to the energy of a young group surrounding a young filmmaker, Anis Lassoued.
Profiting from the general atmosphere of freedom, the organizers seem to move up a gear by anticipating a come back to the initial regional plan of united Maghreb. From that point of view they stick to a deep feeling of the maghrebian populations.
As for the program it is made of three important sections. One is the official competition for short and feature maghrebian films. The other two non-competitive sections give an idea about the challenge of the festival.
A section is dedicated to the connection between Europe and the Maghreb. It focuses on films made in the frame of the immigration, which plays a big controversial role in the identity of these populations.
The third section is not less controversial. It is dedicated to the amazigh cinema: Amazigh is the name of the original identity of the people in the Maghreb, called also Berbers.
Generally these two aspects are subject of very vehement debates in Tunisia because they oppose the arab dominating identity. Tunisia stands right in between the two geographic and cultural poles: Maghreb (West) and Mashrek (East).
All about bounderies
The more you go to the west the more the Berber culture and language are stronger. In Morocco, around 80% of the population speaks amazigh, mostly in the region of the Rif (Atlas mountain). In Algeria, a big population in the region of the Kabylie and in the desert speaks Berber. In Tunisia only few isolated villages speak the old language.
Arab nationalists accuse those who point at this aspect of being brain washed by the western colonizer whose "complot" is to divide the Arab World. For a long time it was not easy to evocate this subjects on the name of the national unity.
When recently an association was created to rehabilitate the Berber language and the cultural heritage of Berbers in Tunisia, there was a big controversy on social media.
The Berber identity was always occulted and a lot of them feel frustrated. Some people would be even more radical and call for a cultural genocide because of the disappearance of the language.
This is perhaps the key-role of any revolution: to call for a reset of all clocks. And the cinema is again one of the main actors this cultural reset.
Wether it is worth it or not, this is a different ball game.
07/09/2011 > 11/09/2011 festival |Tunisie | Festival du Film Maghrébin de Nabeul 2011 3ème édition (anciennement : Rencontres Cinématographiques Arabes de Nabeul). Thème: Cinéma d'exception. Invité d'honneur : Festival du film amazigh (FCNAFA).