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French Version

Love and war in Iraq, as seen by Italy's Benigni in Tunisia

New film portrays U.S.-led invasion

Italian film director Roberto Benigni and his wife Nicoletta Braschi, who played the lead roles in the Oscar-winning World War II comedy-drama "La Vita e Bella" (Life is Beautiful) are to star again in a movie about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

In "La Tigre e la Neve" (The Tiger and the Snow), which is being shot here, Benigni stars as an Italian poet and Braschi as his mistress, who are caught up in events on the eve of the invasion.

The film will show the "disastrous effects of war," according to Ridha Turki, the film's Tunisian producer.

Turki is head of International Monastir Films Services, a studio that has produced 45 full-length movies, including "The English Patient," since it was established in 1987.

He said that Benigni chose Tunis because of its stability, its movie-making expertise and the "resemblance of some sites to Iraq."

The Tunisian defense and interior ministries made troops and tanks available, and sets resembling Fallujah and Baghdad were recreated around the oases of Gafsa, Tozeur and Nefta in the south of the country.

Shooting started in Rome before the production team, 150 Tunisians and 80 Italians, transferred here.

Once the desert scenes were finished, the team moved to one of the northern suburbs of Tunis before returning to Rome.

The film is scheduled for release next May.

The movie also features Jean Reno of France, Rajeh Rajeh of Syria and seven Tunisians, including Abdelkader Mekded, who is well known in the Arab-world.

Beirut,11 22 2004
The Daily Star
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