Ben Ammar, Tarak
Tarak Ben Ammar
Producer (Tunis, Tunisia, 6.12.1949)
Born in Tunis in 1949, of Tunisian minister Mondher Ben Ammar and Simone Gaggeri, nephew of Wassila Bourguiba, the second wife of President Habib Bourguiba, Tarak Ben Ammar attended an American school in Rome in 1958, while his father was ambassador. In this occasion he could discover the great masters of Italian cinema. He graduated from international economy at Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington DC and in 1970 was back in Tunisia, proposing himself as referee for foreign producers aiming to film in his home country.
He convinced Francesco Rosi and Roberto Rossellini to shoot in Tunisia Il caso Mattei (1972) and Il Messia (1975, also starring ) and obtained a small quota in the production. In 1974 Ben Ammar founded the company Carthago Films with a fund capital amounting to 300,000 French francs. Over the years he was producer, executive producer or associate producer of over 70 films. In 1976 his very first production was released, that is Profezia per un delitto (Death Rite) by Claude Chabrol, that cost about 5 million francs but flopped at box office. In the same year he met in Tunisia George Lucas who was looking for a desert set: he was to shoot the first three episodes of Star Wars saga in the village of Tataouine and also Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981).
In 1984 he met Silvio Berlusconi and joined him in the production of TV series A.D. – Anno Domini (1985). In 1990 he found Quinta Communications with a fund capital of 30 million francs, an audiovisual integrated group offering services for funding, post-production, distribution, TV rights, in France and in Italy, and associated with Italian Lux Vide, owned by Ettore Bernabei. Over the years Ben Ammar associated with several other major tycoons operating in the international audiovisual scene, such as Saudi Al Waleed, Australian Rupert Murdoch, German Leo Kirch, French Jean-Marie Messier, US Weinstein brothers.
Together with Lux Vide, with an investment of 20 million dollars, Ben Ammar launched Empire Studios in the village of Latrach, between Hammamet and Tunis, and participated in the production of several TV series inspired to the Bible or the life of saints for Rai. He later created Ben Arous studios, not far from Tunis, that will host the set of Giuseppe Tornatore’s Baaria (2009). In about 40 years, Ben Ammar produced or co-produced 29 features (movies, TV movies or TV series) in association with Italian companies, recruiting dozens of Afrodescendant performers and technicians.
Il caso Mattei (Francesco Rosi, 1972, ff, copr), R.A.S. – Nulla da segnalare (Yves Boisset, 1974, ff, dpr), Profezia di un delitto (Claude Chabrol, 1975, ff, pr), Il Messia (Roberto Rossellini, 1975, ff, copr), Sahara Cross (Tonino Valeri, 1977, ff, pr), Gesù di Nazareth (Franco Zeffirelli, 1977, tvms, dpr), Il ladrone (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1980, ff, pr), Quando la coppia scoppia (Stefano Vanzina [Steno], 1981, ff, pr), Zitto, quando parli (Philippe Clair, 1982, ff, pr), La traviata (Franco Zeffirelli, 1983, ff, pr), A.D. – Anno Domini (Stuart Copper, 1985, tvms, pr), Un ragazzo di Calabria (Luigi Comencini, 1987, ff, pr), Il giovane Toscanini (Franco Zeffirelli, 1988, ff, pr), In una notte di chiaro di luna (Lina Wermüller, 1989, ff, pr), I cavalieri che fecero l’impresa (Pupi Avati, 2001, ff, copr), Augusto (Roger Young, 2003, tvms, copr), Nerone (Paul Marcus, 2004, tvms, copr), San Pietro (Giulio Base, 2005, tvms, copr), Giovanni Paolo II (John Kent Harrison, 2005, tvms, apr), Chiara e Francesco (Fabrizio Costa, 2007, tvms, copr), Pompei (Giulio Base, 2007, tvms, copr), Hannibal Lecter – Le origini del male (Peter Webber, 2007, ff, pr), L’ultima legione (Doug Lefler, 2007, ff, pr), Baaria (Giuseppe Tornatore, 2009, ff, pr), Sant’Agostino (Christian Dugay, 2010, tvms, copr), Il principe del deserto (Jean-Jacques Annaud, 2012, ff, pr), Le mille e una notte – Aladino e Sherazade (Marco Pontecorvo, 2012, tvms, copr), Santa Barbara (Carmine Elia, 2012, tvm, copr), Maria di Nazaret (Giacomo Campiotti, 2012, tvms, copr)
Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi, with Andrea Capruzzi and Renata Ornella Orlando
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