Italy and Tunisia are united by deep and consolidated political, cultural and economic ties, which have their roots in the geographical proximity and common belonging to the Mediterranean area, which brings the Italian and Tunisian communities into continuous contact. To celebrate this solid relationship, on May 15, an online film festival entitled “From the Casbah of Mazara del Vallo to the Little Sicily of La Goulette” was inaugurated, organized by the Hergla association “Ciné-Sud Patrimoine”, in collaboration with the Embassy of Tunisia in Italy.

Italy and Tunisia
Poster of the Festival “From the Casbah of Mazara del Vallo to the Little Sicily of La Goulette”

The event, available on the website until May 22, aims to tell the importance and quantity of exchanges that have linked Italy and Tunisia over time through the language of cinema. In particular, Mazara del Vallo is the Italian city that hosts the largest Tunisian community, while La Goulette was the favorite place of emigration of Italians to Tunisia in the early 1900s. Cinema, therefore, offers its space to tell the story of over a century of North-South and South-North exchanges which, from the arrival of the first Sicilians and Leghorns who emigrated to Tunisia, reaches up to the present day.

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A Tunisian woman in the Casbah district of Mazara del Vallo

The review was inaugurated last Saturday from Naples in live streaming from the musical performance of the Italian-Tunisian duo Salvatore Morra (oud, the Arab lute) and Marzouk Mejri (voice and percussion), followed by the screening of the documentary “Claudia Cardinale, la plus belle italienne de Tunis” by Mohamed Ben Mahmoud (1994). The event will close on Saturday 22 May at 9 pm by the virtual meeting “From the Little Sicily of La Goulette to the Casbah of Mazara del Vallo” in which Professor Abdelkarim Hannachi and the scholar Jamel Louini will retrace the history of the two iconic neighborhoods of migration in Italy and in Tunisia: Little Sicily in La Goulette and the Casbah of Mazara del Vallo.

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Celebration of Our Lady of Tapani in La Goulette, held in August 2020

The films offered to the public – in the original language with subtitles in Italian and French – are 12 including feature films, shorts and documentaries, signed by Tunisian and Italian directors – Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud, Marcello Bivona, Olfa Chakroun, Stefano Savona, Giovanna Taviani, Tarek Ben Abdallah, Gianfranco Pannone, Ernesto Pagano, Enrico Montalbano – who over the last 30 years have told the importance and intensity of migration between Italy and Tunisia through the testimonies of the direct protagonists. “We wanted to make available to the public this precious audiovisual heritage formed thanks to the work of Tunisian and Italian directors […]” explained Tunisian director Mohamed Challouf, creator of the initiative and one of the founders of the “Ciné-Sud Patrimoine” Association.

According to the Ambassador of Tunisia to Italy, Moez Sinaoui, “this initiative invites us to look at the phenomenon of migration between our two countries in all its dimensions: historical, social and cultural, allowing us to get to know it in depth and to understand its current meaning”.