If documentaries are your thing, you’re in for a back-to-school season treat! A selection of Cannes Film Festival’s ACID (Association du cinéma indépendant pour sa diffusion) independent films will screen in Cairo between Wednesday 31st of August and Tuesday 6th of September, in collaboration with host venues, Institut Français d’Egypte, Zawya and Cimatheque .With topics ranging from religiosity, to the transgender struggle, to the question of how to live one’s life, there’s a flick for everyone…
In this fictionalised mockumentary directed by Çağla Zencirci & Guillaume Giovanetti, the viewer delves into the world of Pakistan’s transgender community – the Khusras – through the eyes of Noor; a personable, effeminate young man who adorns trucks with flamboyant decorations and dances to earn money and support his fatherless family. The film follows him on his journey in search of a legendary lake, as he strives to ‘live like a man’, despite having been castrated and find a woman who will accept him the way he is.
Noor tackles the transgender taboo, and personal struggle to find love, in a conservative culture, through riveting scenes (such as the rape scene, which will send shivers down your spine) that will have you on the edge of your seat.
Le Challat de Tunis
A man on a motorbike, razor blade in hand, prowls the streets of Tunisia slashing women’s derrieres. They call him Le Challat, aka ‘The Blade’, and the mere mention of his name provokes terror and fascination. In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, a stubborn young female director set out on an investigation to unravel the mystery and discover the true Challat of Tunisia, while facing trials and tribulations from authorities.
Director Kaouther Ben Hania’s relentless drive to uncover the truth of Le Challat’s crimes is both inspiring and intriguing, as one wonders whether the Jack the Ripper-esque criminal is a lone wolf, or the creation of religious fanatics.
Atheist Iranian filmmaker, Mehran Tamadon, manages to convince four mullahs – all believers in the Islamic Republic of Iran – to come and stay with him for two days and engage in discussion. In this confined space, daily life is combined with debate, and we are privy to the problematic issue of how to live together when each side’s understanding of the world is so contrary.
No matter which side you take, Iranien provides perspective on what it means to be spiritual in conservative Islamic societies and its clashes with the concept of a pluralist society.
French actress Emilie Brisavoine turns the camera on her own family in a reality-TV-style documentary, casting them as modern-day royalty (she dubs her mother ‘Queen’, and herself ‘Princess’); not only does this suggest the importance of one’s own clan over all others, but it also plays nicely into the idea of an excessively entitled generation that’s obsessed with itself. Contrast this with Pauline’s mother’s generation, which prefers more personal privacy (the ‘Queen’ is visibly perturbed by the constant filming of her day-to-day activities), and the results are fairly explosive.
The eccentricity of the ‘Royal Family’- in both behaviour and fashion – makes the film a spectacle to see. Pauline S’arrache provides more than a sneak-peak into the somewhat ordinary, somewhat manic life of a French film star.
Dans Ma Tete un Rond-Point (A Roundabout In My Head)
Possibly the most artful piece ever filmed in a slaughter house, Hassan Merhani’s Algerian-French documentary gives us a glimpse into the lives of abattoir workers in the post-Arab Spring world. The film particularly focuses on 20-year-old Yusuf and middle-aged Ali Bey (i.e. Uncle Ali), both of whom are seen as products of their historical environment: Ali, a son of post-colonial Algeria, when what is now Africa’s largest nation broke free of French control after a bloody civil war; Yusuf, part of the Arab Spring generation, bewildered by a multiplicity of options- including escape to the supposedly more stable continent just across the Mediterranean.
For more information on ACID Film Week in Cairo, click here.
By Salma Thanatos Rizk