04/04/2014

El Challat, a Tunisian Jack the Ripper, now out in cinemas

Ben Kaouther Hénia's first feature is inspired by a true story from 2003

Industry, Tunisia

El Challat, a Tunisian Jack the Ripper, now out in cinemas

In her first fiction feature El Challat (in French, Le Challat de Tunis), for 90 minutes, Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hénia recounts the true tale of a "serial" gasher who made headlines in Tunisia in 2003, reports JetSetMagazine.

It's the summer of 2003. A man on a motorcycle, razor in hand, rides through the streets of Tunis. His mission is to slash the most beautiful pairs of buttocks of women walking the city's streets. They call him the Challat.

Mysterious and elusive, at the time, the Challat sparked passions and tensions. The state took the opportunity to launch a campaign against "morality" and to cast doubt on the possible return of Islamists to power in Tunisia, a country that, since independence, had until then succeeded better than its neighbours in maintaining the modern ideal of empowered, emancipated women. 

To tell this story, Kaouther Ben Hénia chose derision by devising a fiction that "borrowed codes from investigative documentaries, like a filmmaker looking for evidence for their investigation file." 


affiche-challat"From the start, the film's form suggested a humorous tone with a hint of irony. The situation was dark enough to be treated in a way to provoke tears. [But] I wanted my film to reflect a Tunisia that constantly self-deprecates to preserve hope for a better future.”   

"The Challat investigation is undermined by the lies that, in turn, reveal other truths. El Challat is like a big treasure hunt, in which around every corner there is a story -- true or false -- that tells us more about reality,” says the director, who plays herself in the film, a filmmaker conducting the investigation.

Kaouther Ben Hénia masters the film's topic and its treatment, with two narrative reconstructions: the fiction and the cinematic treatment created through the documentary genre. 

With humour, El Challat tells the story behind the headline that became an urban legend, and portrays a thriving Tunisian society in which men seem to struggle to find their place and the female body remains an important political issue.

El Challat received support from the CNC, Fonds du South and AFAC for its scriptwriting, from Doha Film Institute and Georges in Switzerland for production, and from the Tunisian Ministry of Culture and Enjaaz for post-production. It was developed during Eurodoc, EAVE Dubai and FidLab.

Produced by Cinétéléfilms (Tunisia) and Sister Productions (France), the film was released in Tunisian cinemas on April 1. For all news related to the film, please visit the film's Facebook page.   

 

Sources : JetSetMagazineAfricultures, dossier de presse

 

El Challat – trailer: 

share this article by email print this page