By Roy Armes
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Additional resources for African Filmmaking: North and South of the Sahara (Traditions in World Cinema)
But as has usually been the case throughout the world, the state bureaucracy proved to be a very inefficient film producer and the organisation’s structures stifled creativity. Despite this, Algeria remained the leading film producing country in the Maghreb until the early 2000s, with over 120 films produced by about fifty directors. ONCIC’s production monopoly meant that it was responsible for virtually all Algerian feature-film production for cinema release from 1968 until it was dissolved in 1984.
If Zohra was, as Guillemette Mansour observes, ‘a semi-documentary’,15 The Girl from Carthage is the full fictional story of a young woman, under pressure to marry her father’s choice of husband (a rich and brutal landowner), who runs away to the desert and is followed by the gentle young teacher she loves. 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.
Three basic features of melodrama are common to both the Egyptian film and the European or Hollywood colonial feature. The first is the focus on emotional 28 BEGINNINGS intensity and calamitous events to which, from an Egyptian perspective, Ali Abu Shadi draws attention. 37 The third shared feature is the manichean world, which Khémais Khayati sees as particularly characteristic of Egyptian cinema: ‘There is good and evil. There is God and the Devil. Between them no reconciliation is possible. Values are total and never relative .