Zinet, Algiers, Happiness gives homage to Algerian filmmaker Mohamed Zinet at El-Gouna Film Festival

Soha Hesham , Tuesday 19 Dec 2023

Screened within the feature documentary section at the sixth edition of the El-Gouna Film Festival, the film Zinet, Algiers, Happiness sheds light on life and work of Algeria’s renowned filmmaker Mohamed Zinet (1932-1995).



The film made its world premiere in the festival running from 14-21 December in the Red Sea resort town of Gouna.

Directed by Mohamed Latrèche, it weaves together Zinet’s story as a tireless activist, a visionary director, a skilful actor, and a poet.

The festival is also screening Zinet’s Tahia Ya Didou (1971), a work that pays tribute to the city of Algiers (and its Casbah) in the aftermath of the country’s independence.

Although it was not released in cinemas, Tahia Ya Didou became a cult classic for two generations of cinephiles thanks to Zinet’s unique sense of humour, irony, and fantasy that did not meet producers’ taste.

Neither did the film please the Algerian municipality who wanted to see a tourist documentary about the capital.

Tahia Ya Didou was finally released in cinemas in 2016 after being restored.

Tahia Ya Didou is also an integral part of Zinet, Algiers, Happiness, a documentary that strongly echoes the artistic personality of Mohamed Zinet, captured poetically by Latrèche.

Zinet’s filmography reflects deeply the unique moment in Algeria’s history. As an assistant director, he worked alongside Ennio Lorenzini in Hands Free (1964) and Gillo Pontecorvo for The Battle of Algiers (1966), whereas both works paved the way for his later Tahia Ya Didou.

Besides his work behind the camera, Zinet made his name as an actor, starring in a number of important titles such as Le Bougnoul (1975), Dupont Lajoie (1975), Madame Rosa (1977), and Robert et Robert (1978). 

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