Film Depicts The History of Sicilian Emigration to Tunisia

The world premier of “Siciliens d’Afrique. Tunisie Terre Promise,” a film about the history of Sicilian emigration to Tunisia in the 19th and 20th centuries, will take place in the North African country on Thursday.

It will be presented by the Italian Cultural Institute at the cinema Mad’Art of Carthage. Sicilians make up the largest component of the Italian community in Tunisia and have been integrated into society for centuries.

An Italian-Tunisian co-production, the movie also highlights the language spoken by the Sicilian community in Tunisia, called Siculo-Tounsi. It is a mixture of Sicilian, Tunisian Arabic, French and Maltese.

Director Marcello Bivona, a Sicilian from Tunisia, left the country at the age of 3 in 1956 after its independence from France. He settled in the Italian city of Milan with his family, but remained attached to his country of origin.

“I wanted this movie to be testimony to aspects of Italian emigration to Tunisia, some of which are still neglected,” said Bivona. “I tried to tell a history common of Tunisia, Italy and France, which deserves to be known.”

In the 1950s, 90 percent of the Italian community in Tunisia were Sicilian, such as the great Italian actress Claudia Cardinale, who was born in Tunis in 1938.

She starred in several acclaimed European films in the 1960s and 1970s. She acted in Italian, French and English-language movies, including “The Pink Panther.” Her daughter Claudia Cardinale Squitieri stars in “Siciliens d’Afrique. Tunisie Terre Promise.”

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