A cultural reference and a heart full of love

Hicham Rostom in the play “Art” (2007) by the French writer Yasmina Reda (Fathhi Belaid / AFP)

The good cultural and educational reference, received by the late Hisham Rostom on 28 June 2022, helped to highlight his artistic talent and establish him as an important film and television face, thanks to his qualitative participation in Tunisian works that ‘ was a decisive turning point. in its history, or for its interpretation of roles in foreign works, even if it was Secondary, but it was of cardinal importance to serve the subject of the film, and therefore it was used, and worked with, in Algerian, Moroccan, French, Italian and English films, and in other productions.

These fruitful experiences generated a light-hearted journey that lasted about half a century, and gained extensive experience for him, which made him, as an actor, director, screenwriter, producer and musician, think of many artistic projects after gaining an important experience. has what loaded him. with a lot of energy with which he wanted to create a creative dimension.

A few years ago, he contacted me to tell me that he had written the screenplay for a revolutionary television series, which reflects the common struggle between the Algerian and Tunisian peoples in the time of French colonialism. Because it was a big project, as he described it, he wanted an Algerian partner so he could direct the work. Despite his efforts and enthusiasm, however, the project, according to my information, did not see the light of day.

Rostom was born on May 26, 1947 during the French occupation in the La Marsa region, in the Tunisian capital. He received his first studies in his country, before traveling to France in 1967 to complete his postgraduate studies, and obtained a doctorate in literature, while at the same time studying theater and art in its institutes. There he resumed his love of acting and theater, which he had begun in his childhood in Tunisia, under the protection and encouragement of Abdel Aziz, the owner of the character, and he was the director of the Sadiqiyah School, which as’ a cultural and educational pole, and the main school, in view of the spread of ancient education in the time, and its dependence on mosques and corners, and the Zaytuna Mosque in particular. Al-Sadiqiah School has relied on the teaching of modern sciences and foreign languages ​​in its curricula, and this pioneering construction of knowledge has yielded several important names, which have contributed to the building of modern Tunisia, such as the warrior and former Tunisian President Habib Bourguiba.

Rustom loved art and theater early on, thanks to the owner of the taba, who ran the school and developed his curricula, and he is his mother’s grandfather. In addition to the effort of actor and theater director Ali Ben Ayyad (1930 – 1972), who discovered and loved theater to a great extent, and involved himself in some works, to keep that burning flame in his heart, it again to inflate and develop it in France.

Hisham Rostom benefited from his presence in France, after completing his studies there, and participating in plays, films and series, which gave him the knowledge and artistic reference he needed. Thus, on his return to Tunisia, he framed himself well, based on important and solid theoretical and empirical knowledge, and he began another, more brilliant artistic career.

It is noteworthy that his participation in Tunisian films, which was a decisive turning point in the history of this art, and the well-established roles in every Tunisian, and all who respect the struggle of people and their longing for freedom, is his participation. in “Safeeh Dahab” (1989) by Nouri Bouzid, in which he played the character of Youssef Sultan, who carries He bears the burden of an entire generation. A left-wing man, struggling for a better tomorrow, in which communism triumphs, which he sees as the only way to get Tunisia out of injustice and chaos. But on the other hand, he finds the whips of power, his clubs and his endless oppression, so he is captured, tortured and interrogated. Bouzid boldly filmed these scenes, provoked the regime’s resentment at the time, and the film was banned from showing in Tunisia and several Arab countries, following pressure from the Tunisian government. Yusuf Sultan’s character is for many a clear picture of the thinking mind, suppressed by the police regimes.

Hisham Rostom lived out the character of Youssef Sultan with all his heart, especially after performing daring scenes, to the extent that it is currently ruled out that there will be an actor with his boldness, and doing what he did. Due to its importance, “Safeeh Dahab” was selected in the list of the 100 best films in Arab films, in the poll of the 10th session (6-14 December 2013) of the Dubai International Film Festival, by 52 in the to place selection. of critics and filmmakers who participated in referendum.

“Safeeh Dahab” was not the only one in terms of importance in Tunisian films in which Hicham Rostom participated. There are other films that also take a decisive turn, such as “The Silence of the Palaces” (1994) by Moufida Al-Tlatli, in which he played the character of Si Al-Bashir, and several films by Tayeb Al-Wahishi, such as “Majnoun Laila” (1989), “The Wedding of the Moon” (1998) and “The Sun Child” (2014). There are also “A Wonder Box” (2002) and “Flower of Aleppo” (2016) by Reda Al-Bahi, “Television Gayeh” (2006) by Moncef Dheib, and “Whisper of the Sands” (2017) by Nasser Khemir , amongst other things.

As a foreigner, Rustom played key roles, such as his participation in “The English Patient” (1996) by Brit Anthony Mangila, which won 9 “Oscars”, including Best Picture, and “The Wing or Thigh” (1976) by Frans Claude Zaidi, and “The Desert and the Forest” (2001) by the South African Gavin Hood.

He also has roles in Moroccan films: “Everything Lula Wants” (2008) by Nabil Ayouch, and “The Fifth String” (2011) by Salma Bargash, and others.

Hisham Rostom not only excelled in films, but excelled in various arts, such as theater, which has an important place in it, in addition to drama, and he was a “winning card” in many works in it, by playing roles that are still firmly established in the Tunisian scenes to this day, thanks to the masses The small screen, and its proximity to the audience. In addition to his great love for music, he founded the Rouhaniyat Sufi Music Festival.

One of the reasons for his success as an actor is his innate love for the arts, his good education and the experience he gained in many years of work. The strong and distinctive features of his face also played a role in this, as he is of Turkish descent. It was as if there was an innate willingness, which he developed and refined, and with which he ended, became, with the union of these material and moral structures, and his creation of an important artistic figure, which contributed much to the movie. scene, and contributed to its growth.

Hisham Rostom lived his life the way he wanted. A gentle artist, he calls for peace, love and goodness in every media appearance, and acts positively and clearly on many issues. He also loved charity work, and always supported it, with money, attendance and guidance. For this he could engrave his name in the light, to make it shine for future generations.

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