Dary Berkani (Derri Berkani)
Director and actor (Draâ-El-Mizan, Algeria, 9.3.1937)
Derri Berkani was born in September 3, 1937 at Draâ-El-Mizan, in the Tizi Ouzou province in Northern Algeria. According to Marie-Joëlle Rupp, he would be a direct descendant of Mohamed El Berkani, the right-hand man of the emir Abd El Kader, hero of anti-colonial resistance. During the summer of 1942 his childhood was shattered by the death of his father and the deportation of his mother in Ravensbrück camp, in Northern Germany. While he was being hidden, at 5 he was ordered out of Paris with Jew children and was welcomed in Italy in a family. Some years later, he found again his mother abut his trauma was never to be forgotten and inspired his first novel, Ne montre à personne (Don’t Show Anyone) (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1995).
He studied some time at Jean-Baptiste See in Paris while returning for a short stay in Algiers that made him understand the reality of colonial segregation. He envisaged to study film but the outbreak of the war forced him to postpone his project. In order to avoid the call to army, he enrolled the faculty of medicine and started to attend the Communist Students Union (UEC) that helped objectors to expatriate to Germany or Italy. At the end of the war, with a degree in medicine, he enrolled enrolled the Institute for Advanced Cinematographic Studies (IDHEC) in Paris.
After graduation, Berkani directed two features, Majorana and Étoile aux dents aka Poulou le magnifique (1971) and got in contact with Roberto Rossellini, who offered him the role of Saint Augustine in his TV movie Agostino d‘Ippona (1972), filmed at Rome, Pompei and Ercolano. That was to be his only experience as an actor and in a film related to Italy. After Rosselliniʼs example, he devoted himself to documentaries for television, on scientific, sociological and artistic subjects. In his some twenty titles, it is worth to remember the short documentary La Mosquée de Paris, une résistance oubliée (1990), to recall the support offered by the Muslim community to Jews during the Nazi persecution, an episode to be revisited also in the feature film Les Hommes libres (Free Men) by Ismaël Ferroukhi in 2011. He carried out his fight for the rehabilitation of memory, tolerance and secularism as a writer starting 1995. He authored several novels, edited by LʼHarmattan: Ne montre à personne (1995), La Kahena de la Courtille (2002), Le Tournesol fou (2004), Le Retourné (2007), Le Périple andalou (2011).
Agostino d‘Ippona (Roberto Rossellini, 1972, tvm, act)
Frame taken from:
Agostino d‘Ippona. Dir. Roberto Rossellini. Orizzonte 2000, RAI Radio Retelevisione Italiana, 1972.
Contributors: Leonardo De Franceschi
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