Film festival opens in Tunisia with ‘taboo’ abortion movie

Published November 1, 2021
PRODUCERS arrive for the opening ceremony of the film festival.—AFP
PRODUCERS arrive for the opening ceremony of the film festival.—AFP

TUNIS: Tunisia’s prestigious Carthage Film Festival has opened with a screening of “Lingui” — a movie from Chad about a teenage girl who seeks an abortion.

The festival showcases 57 diverse films from 45 Arab and African countries, with screenings not only in cinemas, but in prisons and military barracks too.

Social issues are a common thread of the festival, with the opening film Lingui, by Chadian director Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, telling the story of a 15-year-old seeking an abortion in a country where it is condemned.

Haroun said he was honoured to open the festival with “a taboo subject”.

“It is a... political choice on the part of the festival, because it is a sub-Saharan film, which talks about the rights of women, in Arab countries and around the world,” he said.

Under the slogan “Let’s dream, Let’s live”, the festival is taking place across the capital Tunis this week.

The festival is “intended to be a celebration of art, creativity, cinema and life”, organisers say, and hopes to explore “new cinematographic trends in Africa and the Arab world”.

Entries from Arab nations include films from Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen, while from sub-Saharan Africa they include movies from Ghana, Madagascar, Mali, Somalia and South Africa.

Other films include Egyptian director Ali Al Arabi’s 2021 film “Captains of Zaatari”, about refugees in Jordan wanting to become professional footballers, and Jessica Beshir’s 2021 film from Ethiopia, “Faya Dayi”, of young people’s dreams under a harsh regime.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2021

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