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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Albert Samama-Chikli

Other: Albert Samama Chikly 
Dates:  1872 - 1933
Active:  Algeria / Tunisia / France
According to the film historian Luke McKernan, Albert Samama-Chikli, was a Tunisian Jew, who organized the first screenings of Lumiere films in a Tunis shop in 1897. A truly remarkable individual, Chikli is also credited with also introducing the first bicycle, telegraph and X-ray machine to Tunisia. However, he retained his interest in film and actually became a filmmaker in both Tunisia and France. During the WW I, Chikli filmed the French Army at Verdun in addition to his work with autochromes. Historian Gregor Murbach has identified the plates reproduced here as probably being taken by Chikli in early 1916 in Algeria and Tunisia. Murbach transcribed Chikli‘s reports and noted that Chikli mentioned the building of a train line in the desert by German prisoners as well as mentioning the snow, both of which can be seen in the autochromes.
After the War, Chikly went on to make the first Tunisian fiction film, a short entitled Zohra (1922), and then the first Tunisian feature film, Ain el-Ghezal ou la fille de Carthage/The Girl from Carthage (1924). McKernan considers both feats "a remarkable achievement when African filmmaking in general was almost non-existent." His tombstone bears the epitaph: "Tireless in curiosity, reckless in courage, audacious in enterprise, obstinate amidst trials, resigned to misfortune, he leaves his friends".
© Mark Jacobs (2006) - Used with permission

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