Institut für den Nahen und Mittleren Osten




Tunisian movies after independence (1956) relied on symbolism and allegorical representation to approach themes related to political oppression. more politically engaged approach in movies surfaced produced after 2011, resulting in a bolder approach to this subject. New movies have intensified their focus on youth in particular by scrutinizing the role of the legacies of the past, be they political, socio-cultural, or religious. In movies like the Borders of Heaven (chbabek el janna), Millefeuille (Manmoutech), As I Open My Eyes, Tunisian Spring (Printemps Tunisien), and Hedi, the revolution appears sometimes as a central theme, and sometimes as a series of events and incidents with a loose connection to the movies’ plotlines. Regardless of the role of the 2011 events in these movies, most of them also stress stormy internal conflicts experienced by individuals, but ones which cannot be separated from a larger uncertain political and socio-cultural transition. My study examines how Tunisian movies produced after 2011 have tried to diverge from their predecessors, particularly from the major auteur films of the 1980s and 1990s. My study shows that the struggle of various characters with the past cannot be isolated from the larger context of a revolution in progress. This is sometimes painful and violent. The characters’ internal conflicts in these new movies hinder their growth and their movement into an uncertain future. Likewise, the Revolution has so far failed to dig deep and hit the very roots of oppression in Tunisian society, and to produce a vision of a future free from the tyranny of the past. The struggle is reflected in the authority of ancestral knowledge over society, intergenerational conflict, and violence against women and vulnerable groups. Finally, the study examines the shifting role of the state in Tunisian cinema. The state has played a double-edged role in the production process, as a supply for funding, but also as a source of surveillance. However, the state’s role is now diminishing at a time when the number of public spaces destined for movie goers like movie theaters and cultural centers in Tunisia is in decline. This possibly signals the disintegration of traditional centralized modes of knowledge, given the rise of affordable and easily accessible digital technology, such as DVDs and movie streaming websites.