Youcef Goucem, head of the production company GoFilm, succumbed to his injuries on January 24th at the Douera hospital in the suburbs of Algiers.
Two and a half weeks earlier, on January 7th, the Algerian producer set fire to himself in the offices of the private television channel Dzair TV. According to a friend, director Saïd Mehdaoui, Goucem was driven to this desperate act because of the late payment for a serial he had produced, broadcast in 2017 by Dzair TV.
The channel, owned by businessman Ali Haddad, denied this, claiming in a statement that Goucem’s act was a “dispute over money which unfortunately turned to drama.”
This tragic event highlights the pressure and precariousness dogging film and broadcasting professionals in Algeria. An open letter of support for Goucem was published on January 10th, signed by the Collectif pour le Renouveau du Cinéma Algérien. Created in early January, this group’s mission is to make the demands of the profession heard, to improve working conditions and to revitalize Algerian broadcasting.
Hundreds of professionals signed the statement, affirming that “we understand better than anyone the pressures which pushed Youcef Goucem to destroy himself, in an expression of his distress and helplessness.” Director Malek Bensmail hopes the political repercussions of this unnecessary death will change politicians’ thinking: “Youcef’s act is a gesture which must cause an electroshock and bring about the overhaul of every cultural and broadcasting policy of our country and its operation.”
To read the letter in its entirety: https://algerie-direct.net/lactualite/affaire-youcef-goucem-les-professionnels-du-cinema-lancent-un-cri-de-detresse/