Ben Ammar greenlights Tunisia pic

Producer plans film about Mohamed Bouazizi

Capturing the zeitgeist of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Quinta Communications topper Tarak Ben Ammar will produce and finance a film about Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who set himself on fire, leading to the revolution in Tunisia.

Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate without a steady job, died Jan. 4 after dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself alight in protest when the Tunisian police confiscated the fruit and vegetables he sold without a permit to support his family.

His act of self-sacrifice became the catalyst for a wave of protests that prompted the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine el-Abedin Ben Ali in January.

Demonstrators in Egypt cite Bouazizi as an inspiration in their demands for freedom, proclaiming him a hero and martyr.

Ben Ammar, who has not yet set a director or cast, says filming will begin in Tunisia this year for delivery before the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

He is in consultation with Bouazizi’s family and will donate profits from the film to them.

Ben Ammar, a nephew of Tunisia’s first independent president, Habib Bourguiba, was in the country during the revolution completing production on Jean-Jacques Annaud’s oil epic “Black Gold,” starring Antonio Banderas and Frieda Pinto.

He owns a stake in Nessma TV, launched in 2008 as the first commercial independent satellite channel for the North African market. Nessma played a pivotal role in the events in Tunisia by airing uncensored information during the country’s transition toward democracy.

In 2010, Paris-based Quinta co-produced Rachid Bouchareb’s “Outside the Law,” about the Algerian struggle for independence from French colonial rule, nominated for a foreign-language Oscar.

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