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picture Black Gold, about two warring emirs in the 1930s, to shoot in the country. Quinta owns two studio facilities, which serv-

ice mainly foreign productions. Both Empire Studios — which is co-owned by Italian produc- tion house Lux Vide — near the coastal resort of Hammamet, and Carthage Studios in the Ben Arous neighbourhood on the outskirts of Tunis have remained operational throughout this tur- bulent year. At the height of the revolution in January, Annaud continued shooting Black Gold at Hammamet. Italian director Giacomo Campiotti has been

shooting Rai Trade’s mini-series Maria Di Nazareth, starring Paz Vega as Mary Magdalene, at the studios since mid-September. Quinta’s smaller Carthage Studios facility is

presently lying empty. Props of planes and tanks, relics of the Black Gold shoot in Ham- mamet, lie about the sets. Curtains masking non-existent interiors rise and fall in the breeze. The set was originally built in the style of a

Sicilian town for Giuseppe Tornatore’s Baaria in 2008 and then given an Algerian and Parisian makeover for Rachid Bouchareb’s foreign-lan- guage Oscar-nominated Outside The Law, about Algeria’s fight for independence from France after the Second World War. French director Alexandre Arcady re-used the

studio for his adaptation of Yasmina Khadra’s What The Day Owes The Night, which also unfolds against the backdrop of the Algerian struggle for independence. The production wrapped at the end of July.

“We’ve hosted three film productions since

the revolution… but a lot of producers are wait- ing to see how things pan out here, especially after the elections [which were won by the mod- erate Islamist Ennahda party],” says Nabil Kila, managing director of Quinta Productions in Tunisia. There is little love lost between Paris-based

Ben Ammar and his film-making compatriots. Many believe the media tycoon should do more to support Tunisian cinema and also drop the rates at his studios for local productions. “They don’t seem to understand that Mr Ben

Ammar is a businessman. They all want some- thing for free,” counters Kila. Some local producers describe Ben Ammar’s

announcement he will produce an Arab-lan- guage feature about Mohamed Bouazizi, the man whose self-immolation sparked the revolu- tion, as an opportunistic publicity stunt. Respected local director Mohamed Zran, who

is attached to the project says: “People like to gossip but this sort of talk doesn’t get us any- where… We have the agreement of Mohamed Bouazizi’s mother and the script is well under- way. We don’t have a shoot date yet. Everything is on hold until after the elections.” In the meantime, Zran is finishing post-pro-

There are 70,000 counterfeit DVD outlets in Tunisia

duction on his revolution documentary Digage!. Zran explains the title is derived from the way ordinary Tunisians pronounce “degage” (“get lost”), Tunisia’s now famous revolutionary slo- gan, chanted by the crowds back in January as they called for Ben Ali’s departure. n


To coincide with Paris FX, Screen International is publishing a special issue dedicated to exploring how 3D digital technology is transforming the way feature films, both live action and animation, are crafted.

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