L’Expression: Culture

Very well known to the public for her famous performance in the film “Le vent des Aurès” by Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina and other great Algerian films, the actress Keltoum was one of the first Algerian women to impose herself on the boards of the theater and in the world of the performing arts, thus opening the way to great careers for women. Fighting both family and social prejudices of the time to impose herself in an Algerian artistic universe in the making, Keltoum, Aïcha Adjouri of her real name, greatly participated with Nouria (1921-2020) in changing the way directors look. and society on the presence of women in the theatre. Born in Blida in 1916, this talented dancer and theater artist was spotted by the essential Mahieddine Bachtarzi who offered her a chance in 1935 despite the reluctance of her family.

Certain acting talents
After a major tour in France, Keltoum turned more and more towards the theater and affirmed her talents as an actress in plays directed by Mahieddine Bachtarzi, Rachid Ksentini or even Habib Réda, before integrating the adventure of first Arab season of the Algiers Opera in 1947. For years, most of the female roles were given to Keltoum and her voice also came to be added to the repertoire of radio theatre, in addition to having recorded five discs in the 1940s and 1950s including “Ya ouled El Ourbane” and “Ahd Thnine”. After a first break in 1951 following an accident which took her away from the spotlight, Keltoum returned to the stage in an adaptation of “Othello” by the famous William Shakespeare, before putting her career on hold, between 1956 and 1963.
In the aftermath of the recovery of national sovereignty, Aïcha Adjouri joined the first cultural institution of independent Algeria, the Algerian National Theater, then directed by Mustapha Kateb, and played her first real leading role in the play “Marriage by telephone” by Mahieddine Bachtarzi.
Her film career will begin in 1966 with the director Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, who will choose her, in “Le vent des Aurès”, for the famous silent role of the mother who is desperately looking for her son imprisoned by the colonial army, defying with courage and obstinacy the French soldiers from one camp to another with admirable indifference to threats and intimidation. In this classic work of Algerian cinema, Keltoum shares the bill with Mustapha Kateb, Mohamed Chouikh, Hassan El Hassani and Hadj Smaïne. This film will lead Keltoum on the red carpet of the Cannes festival in 1966, where she will be the first Algerian actress to represent a work of her country and where the film will receive the Prize for the best first work. Her cinematographic collaboration with Mohammed Lakhdar- Hamina will continue with films like “December” and “Hassan Terro”, and his film career will grow with distributions in works like “Les Déracinés” by Lamine Merbah, “Les Folles Années du twist” by Mahmoud Zemmouri, “Hassan Taxi” by Mohamed Slim Riad, “Hassan Niya” by Ghaouti Bendeddouche, a series that will enrich his collaboration with another cinema and theater monument, Rouiched.

Big movie roles
No less than twenty films have appealed to the incredible talent of Keltoum who, however, gave up singing without ever moving away from the theater where she played in more than seventy plays, confirming a brilliant career which has strongly boosted female interpretation in the 4th art. Keltoum had made her last appearance on the boards, after her retirement from TNA, alongside Rouiched in El Bouwaboune in 1991. On November 11, 2010, the Algerian cultural landscape bid farewell to this emblematic artist who passionately carried art and culture of his country, and paved the way for future generations.

L’Expression: Culture – Pioneer of Algerian actresses