Reflections from Tunis

Ten years after the revolution, the Tunisian cinema industry has witnessed a remarkable increase in independently and collectively produced films. With the new found liberation to speak up, filmmakers across the country have quickly taken over the public sphere bringing multiple new perspectives and opinions to the forefront. Facilitated by new technology and an increase in state sponsored grants, film production has sprouted with new aesthetic and political objectives. But the soil for the sprouts was paved by decades of activities of Tunisian Cinema Club networks, amateur film collectives and a unique cinema culture which has persisted since Tunisia’s independence. Cine Clubs – spaces for membership based collective film exhibition and appreciation mushroomed across the Global South since the 1960s and 70s allowing access to independent and local films finding alternative film circulation environments for screenings and political debate. While these environments gave way to monopolized multiplex infrastructures in many contexts post 1990s, Tunisia’s Federation of Cine Clubs (FTCC) is today an active network linking the countries over 30 Cine Clubs spaces. How do young filmmakers in Tunisia post-revolution relate to the cinematic legacy of their country and its rich Cine Club networks? And what can we learn from the Cine Club practice when thinking about new community led virtual environments for film circulation?

With RUSHES #6, the youth organisation AVEC – L'Association de Volontariats, Échange Culturel et Action des Jeunes (Tunisia) calls for a deeper dive into the role played by Tunisian Cine Club and Amateur film networks since the beginning of cinema in Tunisia. Founded in 1962, at a time when Tunisia had not yet produced its first feature film, the Federation of Amateur Cinematographers, "FTCA" under the name of “Association of Tunisian Young Film-makers”, became the cradle of training for generations of filmmakers, launching the continents oldest annual International Amateur Film Festival in Kelibia in 1962. However, while the film production and emergence of new films has increased, the dissemination of films by young filmmakers still remains highly obstructed.

Together with the expertise of Sahar El Echi, Hatem Fazaa, Olfa Arfaoui, Ahmed Jlassi, we want to critically assess the celebrated rise of local platforms, question Tunisian state-led cultural policy 10 years post revolution and understand how we can think of the unique Cine Club environments in relation to new technologies to create access for emerging cinematic voices across the Global South.

The UNITED SCREENS RUSHES are programmed virtual conversations hosted by the UNITED SCREENS network and its affiliates, based in varied parts of the world and contexts. Curated by the individual host spaces, we invite film practitioners and technologists to reflect on and beyond the questions posed previously. Through these moderated virtual conversations we are hoping to learn from different contexts and practices of resistances, subversions, appropriations, cooperations, documentations, financing and accomplishments to integrate these learnings into working towards a decentralized cinema circulation ecosystem. Between each Rush, we would encourage the audience to send us feedback and questions that will be incorporated into the programming of the content as well. All of these learnings will be the prelude to the physical programme envisioned to bring these voices together in a physical space to forge in discussions, workshops, symposia, and screenings over the course of 2021/2022 on how we can collectively shape reality.


Sahar El Echi  lives and works in Tunisia. A visual artist, filmmaker and researcher, Sahar El Echi was born in Tunis where she pursued studies in graphic design. Her research is situated at the intersection of films studies, and social sciences. She is a recipient of the COARC / Mellon Art History grant. Currently, she is working on her PhD project in film studies at ecole superieure de l'audiovisuel et du cinéma (ESAC) about the narratives of exile in Mediterranean cinema (2000-2020).

She directed two short Films, Mutation (2016) and Entre-Deux (2018), which were selected in many international and national festivals, as well as video essays. She makes use of different mediums including cinema, photography and video art. She also exhibits her work in many art galleries. Sahar was selected in different international programs, The Documentary Film Methods for film teachers at the Danish Film School in Copenhagen (2019), The Beirut – Locarno Industry Academy International, Beirut Talents as part of the Berlinale Talents.

Hatem Fazaais assistant and coordinator at the higher institute of fine arts. He is a specialist in the sciences and techniques of cinema. He participated in several cultural events as a workshop trainer or jury member. Also he is director of Production on several short movies of the collective "Cap K" of which he is the co-founder.

Olfa Arfaoui is an award winner film producer, creative entrepreneur and gender equality advocate. During the past ten years, she served as a country director for the Regional Program of Women Economic Integration in the MENA Region based in Tunisia. Her short first film Equality has received the first "Runner Up" award in LA Women Empowerment Film Competition. She coordinated the production of many Arab award winning films and awareness-raising campaigns on women’s roles in the economy and society through media and films. Recently, she was nominated as a change maker of the Challenging Norms, Powering Economies Initiative of Ashoka, Open Society Foundation, and UN Women for her efforts on empowering women and girls. She writes and speaks about gender equality and female leadership. She co-founded several women’s networks and organizations as Ana Hunna International and Women Empowerment Projects Initiative WEPsI.

Ahmed Jlassiis a professor who teaches filmmaking at the Tunisian University, as well as a screenwriter and documentary filmmaker, f.ex. Emirs in Wonderland 2014.