Tribute to Tawfik Saleh
Amidst the tumultuous waves shaking Egypt, the sound of bullets, and belligerent vociferations; beneath the clouds of tear gas, the flashing beacons and the sirens…with a last look, his eyes and heart full of hope for a people who had suffered so much, Tawfik Salah breathed his last. The death of this pyramid of Egyptian, Arab and third-world cinema was announced discreetly, almost inaudibly. It is, however, a pyramid whose work will continue to illuminate the paths of freedom.
Tawfik Saleh has left for an eternal rest. The images he has left us, his committed, pugnacious, precise camera, his audacious writing, his adaptations of major works: Tawfik El Hakim’s Darb El Mahabil(1955) and Yaumiyat Na’ib fi-l-aryaf (1968); Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun, offered to cinema under the title of The Deceived; his original screenplays Al-moutamarridun (1968),Al-Sayyid Bulti (1967), and Al-Ayyam al-Tawila (1980), so many films which deal with Man in his totality, in his quest for happiness and in the daily details of his social, cultural and political life. Tawfik Saleh’s cinema is one of a bias for justice, dignity and emancipation. Saleh’s political commitment is complimented by an unequalled aesthetic rigour, cinema transcends the idea, the image carries it above the wantonness of discourse and no concessions are allowed. It is committed cinema, true, but above all, cinema: acting, rhythm, composition, plot, suspense, drollness, tension, relief, pathos, humour, conflict, image and dreams.
Tawfik Saleh is our friend, the friend of militants for democracy, the friend of militants for art. He belongs to that generation of venerable old people who will never die: Tahar Cheri’a, Sembene Osman, and many other cultural pathfinders who make the Arab world and Africa look in the mirror, to scrutinize themselves, to define themselves, to move forward along the road to Human dignity, social justice and the creation of values.
Tawfik Saleh was with us during the last JCC (Cinema Days of Carthage), when he was paid a powerful tribute where substantially all of his films were presented. Smiling, joyful and hopeful, at the side of the likes of Souleymane Cissé and young generations which have managed to carry forth the flame and the standard of militant cinema such as Moussa Touré who has shined so brightly with Pirogue. And vogue cinema, vogue!!
May your soul rest in peace Tawfik, we know that the flame you lit will never die.
Translated from French to English by