The Algerian writer Amara Lakhous has been living in Italy for over 20 years. He says that for North African youths, ''emigrating is their final hope to be able to achieve their dreams of a better life. For them, their fatherland is simply one big prison''. Lakhous is the author of 'Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio', which has been translated into French, English, Dutch, and German, as well as 'Divorce Islamic Style', which has been published in Arabic in Lebanon.
'Taranta on the Road', a film on Tunisian migrants in Italy
Lakhous also worked on the screenplay for 'Taranta on the Road' by Salvatore Allocca, a comedy that has just come out in Italian cinemas. It focuses on two Tunisian youths that have just landed in Italy as part of the waves of migrants leaving on boats after the revolution that ousted Tunisian president Ben Ali and the Arab uprisings that followed. The two - played by Nabiha Akkari and Helmi Dridi, both of whom live in France and are of Tunisian origins - aim to reach other countries: she wants to get to France and he wants to get to London. They end up traveling north amid the dangers of police searches for clandestine migrants with the help of a band of young Italian musicians. At a certain point they are 'caught up' by unexpected events and the rhythms of the 'taranta', a type of music that is popular in the Salento, the southern region of Puglia, and carries on the tradition of the 'pizzica': a very rhythmic dance that freed women who were believed to have been bitten by a Tarantula (a 'taranta'), which was a metaphor for psycho-pathological disturbances often seen in rural communities in southern Italy that were studied by the cultural anthropological Ernesto de Martino in the 1950s and 1960s. The film has a happy ending helped by the welcome provided by the taranta and the people of the south.
Migration an act of protest against the ruling class's corruption'
Lakhous was asked what sort of future can Tunisians and Algerians expect for themselves once they actually get to Europe. ''The film is a comedy,'' the writer noted. ''I think that comedy is a more effective narrative approach than drama. The film is a reflection on dreams. For young Algerians, Tunisians, Moroccans and Egyptians, emigrating is their final hope to be able to achieve their dreams of a better life. For them, their fatherland is simply one big prison'' He added that the drive to leave ''is still very strong'' and that emigrating is ''for these youths, an act of protest against the ruling class's corruption''.
As concerns the changes in dealing with migrant landings since 2011, when Italy experienced the mass arrivals on its coasts as an emergency, he added that ''the situation has worsened a great deal. Every time we say we have hit rock bottom, but the worst may be yet to come. And the EU has failed, by abandoning Italy.'' Lakhous was born in Algiers in 1970 to a Berber family and multilingualism - Berber, Arab and French - has been part of his life since he was a child. After getting a degree in philosophy in Algiers, he worked with Algerian radio and received threats, as did many of his friends and colleagues. In 1995 he decided to leave Algeria because ''I was tired of waiting for my assassin''. The Algerian civil war had begun two years before. In the picture