Death of filmmaker Abdellatif Ben Ammar, one of the pioneers of the Tunisian 7th art

Abdellatif Ben Ammar, during a meeting organized by the Tunisian Cinematheque for a tribute to the director Moufida Tlatli, in April 2021. © YouTube / Tunisian Cinematheque (screen capture

Text by: Houda Ibrahim Follow

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Tunisian director and producer Abdellatif Ben Ammar died Monday, February 6 in Tunis at the age of 79.

He was a pioneer, a founding father of the Tunisian seventh art.

Abdellatif Ben Ammar began with higher studies in mathematics before turning to cinema.

And it was in Paris at IDHEC, the Institute for Advanced Film Studies, currently FEMIS, that he studied.

He participated in national and international productions before working on his own films.

The Ministry of Culture regretted "

the loss of a great figure in Tunisian cinema



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It was by obtaining a scholarship that he was able to study in Paris.

Before his departure, the Minister of Culture at the time, Chedli Klibi, told him: “

I expect a lot from you


When he returned to the country in 1965, he produced the news broadcast at the time in cinemas before each film.

This experience allowed him to visit all the regions of Tunisia and rub shoulders with the inhabitants and get to know closely their concerns following independence.

A democratic decline then appeared, announcing the beginnings of a totalitarian regime. 

In his early days, Abdellatif Ben Ammar worked with several Tunisian and international directors.

He was able to assist several great directors, such as Larry Buchanan on 

Rebel Jesus,

Roberto Rosselini on 

Le Messie

and Claude Chabrol on

Les Magiciens



Jesus de Nasareth

 by Franco Zeffirelli, he held the position of production manager.

A modern artistic thought

His first feature,

Une simple histoire, 

was selected for the Cannes Film Festival in 1970, which allowed Tunisia to be present for the first time in the official selection.

His second film,


(1973) won the special jury prize at the Fespaco in Ouagadougou in 1976. This film is one of the 100 best films in the history of Arab cinema.

At the Carthage Festival, he won three times and it was his film


 (1980) that won the Tanit d'or in Tunis.

It dealt with development, liberalism, and the emergence of Islamism in Tunisia.





are ranked among the ten best Tunisian films.

His latest film,

The Wounded Palms

 (2010) showed the struggle of Tunisians against colonialism.

In 2021, in his presence, the Alexandria Festival paid him a tribute.

Abdellatif Ben Ammar, this always calm man, knew how to associate, in his cinematographic language, the feelings and the emotions with the life and the social action.

His works embodied the modernity of his artistic thought.


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