In an exclusive interview with Poronews, Tunisian director Kawthar Ben Hania tells the most important stations of her film “Banat Intimacy”, which was shown in the official competition of the “Cannes” Film Festival, and explains the filming conditions that allowed the actresses to express freely, in a safe atmosphere.
Tunisian director Kawthar Ben Hania’s film “Banat Intimacy” competed for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and aroused the interest of all those present during its screening in the official competition.
Ben Hania told Euronews: I was very happy when they told me that the film was selected in the official competition, especially when I heard names like Ken Loach, Wes Anderson, Wim Winders, I can’t believe what is happening to me and I am very happy to be here.
The film constitutes a hybrid mixture between the documentary and the fictional, and tells the story of Olfa Al-Hamrouni, a Tunisian mother whose name became known all over the world in 2016, after she revealed the extremism of her two daughters and her joining the ranks of the Islamic State following the Jasmine Revolution that overthrew President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
“This small story is linked to the big story of Tunisia,” the director explains to Euronews. “I am fascinated by the impact this revolution has had on the lives of these women, to the point that the heroine of the film, Olfa, is also leading her own revolution, abandoning her husband and leaving to live her life freely.”
From the first moments of the film, the real testimonies are mixed with others that are recreated, between Olfa, her two daughters, and a crew of professional actresses, and we see the real Olfa as she directs the actress who plays her role. In some scenes, the director is shown taking questions from the actors, and we also see excerpts from TV news broadcasts dealing with the issue. This makes for unique scenes made by a mostly female cast.
Ben Hania told Euronews: “I wanted to surround myself with a women’s team in order to lure them into intimate confessions. Photography was like a therapeutic laboratory for me, very feminine.” The men who were on set, I made sure they were friendly and far from masculine.”
Kawthar Ben Hania was the first female director from Tunisia to represent her country at the Academy Awards in 2021 with her film “Ala Kaf Afrit”, and today she aspires to win the Palme d’Or.
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