Tunis: “I’m still a little Tunisian”: Actress Claudia Cardinale, who opened Sunday a street in her name near Tunis, confirmed her attachment to her motherland, whose sense of hospitality is typical of her. Reception of immigrants in the West.
The 84-year-old Italian-Tunisian actress said at the start of a party in her honor in La Goulette, a port in the north suburbs of the Tunisian capital.
The actress, who was visibly enchanted, danced to the tunes of a traditional orchestra, and was then presented with various gifts including portraits by local painters.
A mural with a giant portrait of the actress was unveiled before a plaque in her name opened near the small La Goulette train station.
“We love Claudia very much and she loves Tunisia, she is coming home, we wanted to spoil her with a street that will bear her name forever,” the mayor of Goulette, Amal Limam, told AFP.
“I kept a lot of things from Tunisia inside me, its landscape, its people, its sense of hospitality, its openness,” the actress said before these festivities in an interview with AFP via email.
The Italian immigrant scion said she was “extremely grateful” to the city council and La Piccola Sicilia, the co-organizer of the festivities in her honor. This “Little Sicily” was the La Goulette region where thousands of Italians from Tunisia, mostly from Sicily, gathered, and where “La Cardinale” was born.
At independence in 1956, the Italian community, including many immigrants who arrived before the French protectorate (which began in 1881), had over 130,000 members.
“Great cultural mix”
“It’s an important past: Tunisia for my parents and grandparents was an extraordinary Tunisia. A land of sharing, joy and exchange,” she said, stressing that she “grown in a wonderful cultural mix.”
She was elected in July 1957, “the most beautiful Italian in Tunisia”, at the age of only nineteen, and her award was a trip in the same year to the Venice Film Festival where the profession caught her eye. In particular by director Mario Monicelli who will give him his first role in Le Pigeon the following year.
Soon, her family moved with her to Rome where her career took off, with legendary roles in “Cheetah” by Luchino Visconti or “Once Upon a Time in the West” by Sergio Leone.
The actress, who has lived in France for many years, has never stopped filming and plays the role of a grandmother in Tunisian Rida Behi’s latest film “L’île du Pardon”, currently in post-production.
Like the protagonists of a film that focused on Italian immigration, his parents never recovered from their departure from Tunisia, which she experienced in exile.
“It was very difficult,” she asserts. “My father never wanted to go back, because he was afraid of the pain, which was a real heartbreak for him.”
“My mother recreated Tunisia in Italy. She planted the species there,” bougainvillea, jasmine, and prickly pear, and went on to cook “the Tunisian way.”
For this descendant of Sicilian immigrants who left in search of a better future in Africa, Tunisia “must be proud of its history.”
Faced with the migrations that often occur today from south to north, the actress considered that “it is important to remember this common past.” “Tunisia has been a land of welcome for us, and I wish all those in the world who need to leave in the world find the same welcome.”
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