I have been helped in myriad ways by several Tunisians who wanted me to write this particular book and by many others who were not aware of its political thrust. It is with great pride and pleasure that I thank the following: the entire Aloui family (Noureddine, Bahia, Sami, Emna, and Asma), the late Ahmed Baha Eddine Attia, Hichem Ben Ammar, Hsin Ben Azouna, Kmar Bendana, Amina Ben Ezzeddine, Maher Ben Moussa, Lotfi Ben Rejeb, Fatma Ben Saïdane, Lamia Ben Youssef Zayzafoon, Férid Boughedir, Hatem Bourial, Raja Boussedra, Fathi Dali, Dhia Daly-Bedoui, Moncef Dhouib, Annie Djamal, Nadia El Fani, Kamel Farfar, Monia Hejaiej, Mohamed Kerrou, Hamdi Khalifa, Hédi Khélil, the late Chaker Mansour, Hassouna Mansouri, Mohsen Redissi, Mondher Saïed, Sami Saïed, Mongia Tanfous, Moufida Tlatli, and Mohamed Zran.
In a police state, any resistance to the regime in power runs the risk of reprisal by the state, which is why some individuals who helped me asked not to be named in these acknowledgments. Those whom I did not dare be in touch with after leaving Tunisia, or whom I have not been able to track down since the political upheaval there in early 2011, or who might reasonably fear a counter-revolution, will understand why your names do not appear here. All the same, I remain grateful for your help, your input, and (p.xx) your encouragement. To those of you who understood the risks you were taking, I salute your courage and ethical integrity.
My gratitude toward everyone who has contributed to this study extends to individuals who may not think they had anything to do with it, such as Maha Darawsha, my first Arabic teacher, in Connecticut, and Najeeb Al-Daghashi, my second Arabic teacher, at the Yemen College of Middle Eastern Studies in Sana’a. In the decade of intermittent research and writing that finally became this book about the New Tunisian Cinema and the society from which it emerged, I have been helped by more people than can be listed here. I wish nevertheless to offer my heartfelt thanks to the following: Hakim Abderrezak, Nemanja Bala, Jack Banks, Noura Bensaad, Jean-Pierre Bertin-Maghit, Steven Blackburn, David Bond, Laurence Breeden, Philip Breeden, Patricia Caillé, Steve Caton, Laryssa Chomiak, Renaud Claudon, Rodney Collins, Lauren Cook, Craig Cornell, Paul Dambowic, Arturo Delgado, Béatrice de Pastre, Gayatri Devi, Brian T. Edwards, Kevin Ellison, Brad Epps, Elle Flanders, Suzanne Gauch, Terri Ginsberg, Josef Gugler, Kaya Hacaloğlu, Julian Halliday, Tom Harrington, the late Ambassador Fereydoun Hoveyda, Dona Kercher, Samir Khalaf, Andrea Khalil, Souad Labbize, Peter Lehman, Mark Lilly, Chris Lippard, Ken Lizzio, Yosefa Loshitzky, Florence Martin, Ambassador John T, McCarthy, Daniela Melfa, the late Jeanne Mrad, Dorit Naaman, Insaf Ouhiba, Kathy Paras, Robert Parks, Natacha Poggio, Claudia Pummer Hangelbroek, David Queen, Najat Rahman, Wil Rollman, Jeffrey Ruoff, Riadh Saadaoui, Charles Silver, John Sinno, Candace Skorupa, Lynn Thibodeau, Sylvie Thouard, Joe Voelker, Vivian Walker, Michael Walsh, and Alex Williams.
This project has been generously supported by the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Hartford and has received funding on several occasions in the form of a Richard J. Cardin Research Award, administered by the university of Hartford. My biggest debt of gratitude, of course, is to the Fulbright Scholar Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. As an international educational exchange program designed to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries,” the Fulbright program is a remarkable American achievement. Large in spirit, intelligently conceived, and superbly administered, it is an example of what Habib Bourguiba would have described as “the best of the West.” Its purpose—to provide participants like me with (p.xxi) “the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns”—cannot be commended enough, and I am sincerely grateful to the program for the confidence it placed in me.
Parts of my work were presented at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle–Paris 3, in the Chaire Roger Odin Séminaires doctoraux (Cinéma et audiovisuel), and I wish to thank that institution for the opportunity to discuss the ideas behind this book.
After the manuscript was completed, Amy Kallander read it from beginning to end and very generously offered comments, made corrections, and suggested some revisions—which I did my best to respond to in the short time left to me before the manuscript went to press. The book is much better for the careful attention she gave it, although responsibility for any errors or excesses that have nevertheless made their way into print of course remains mine. The final revision of the manuscript took place at a centre de rééducation in Lamalou-les-Bains in southern France, where I quite unexpectedly found myself confined for a month, after taking a fall during a hike in the Cévennes. To Dr. Brahim Khenifar at the Polyclinique Pasteur in Pézenas: Thank you for my very fine, new, titanium hip; and to the fantastic staff both at the clinic and at La Petite Paix in Lamalou-les-Bains, my warmest gratitude for your around-the-clock attention and kindness.
My family, ever-supportive of my scholarly endeavors, no matter how grumpy the pressure of deadlines sometimes makes me, deserves to be thanked. My parents, June and Vic Lang, and my sister Lesli-Sharon Lang, my belle-sœur Alison Holmes, and beautiful niece Helen Lang—none of whom I see often enough—have shown an encouraging interest in this project, and their commonsense questions and comments (including: “When will it be finished?”) have always been salutary. My partner Paul Scovill, whose service in the Peace Corps as an architect working in El Kef, was at the origin of my desire to go to Tunisia. His enduring affection for the country and its people, and his unique perspective, deriving from a deep knowledge of Tunisia’s history and culture, have made him an invaluable resource: he has been an ideal sounding board, compagnon de route, translator, and sometimes even proofreader.
Finally, I must thank Columbia University Press, especially Jennifer Crewe, in whose friendship I delight and whose skills as an editor and (p.xxii) publisher fill me with admiration; Columbia’s editorial and design team; and John Belton, editor of the Film and Culture series in which this book appears, whose regard for me as a scholar and writer has been a much-appreciated stimulus during the long years of the book’s production.