Bahri Ben Yahmed and Asma Chiboub dream of Tunisia’s next musical comedy

Film director Ben Yahmed and producer Chiboub speak about their first feature film project, Toura Foura, a musical comedy about love and money, set over 24 hours.

Grant Project Activities, Tunisia

At Med Film Factory's Independent Film Assembly on the Dead Sea from April 14 to 15, Euromed Audiovisual caught up with film director Bahri Ben Yahmed and producer Asma Chiboub to chat about their upcoming musical comedy project.

Bahri Ben Yahmed started his career as a dancer-choreographer. He then studied filmmaking at the Higher Institute of Arts and Multimedia in Manouba, Tunis. The short film he made at the end of the course, Are There Any Apples In Paradise?, won an award at the International Amateur Film Festival in Kelibia, Tunisia, and was selected in many festivals.

In 2007, he wrote and directed Lazhar, a short film which won the Silver Tanit at the Carthage Film Festival and the Best Short Film Award in the Digital Africa section of the Pan-African Film Festival of Quebec. He then directed two short films: Contrast (2009), broadcast on TV5 and Canal France International, and Ice cube (2010). Toura Foura is his first feature film project.

“I dream, therefore I am,” he says. “As a child, I dreamt of becoming a great dancer, of putting on great shows in endless tours worldwide. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my idols: Noureïev, Nijinski and Barychnikov.”

“Unfortunately, despite 20 years of hard work and dedication I was not able to achieve my dream. A dancer’s life is a succession of disappointments and ingratitude. But I intend to fulfill this dream through cinema. With this musical comedy, I wish to celebrate dancing with Tunisian talents.

Toura Foura is about the pressing need of two characters, Habib and Lamia, to overcome emotional and material distress.”

“At the height of her notoriety, Lamia decided to put an end to her singer’s career in order to lead an ordinary family life, while Habib, her husband, is still dreaming of becoming a rich and famous star. After the numerous upsets in her own life, Lamia is frustrated with her husband’s unrealistic ambitions and she decides to leave him. Habib tries to commit suicide, but fate gives him an opportunity to start again and rebuild his marriage. The two heroes are led in a race that unites them around a common dream. They are carried along by passion and try to defy misery and despair.” 

“My characters are non-conformist, serious and funny at the same time. The mise en scène will lighten the drama of the story, and the comedy to be taken to the extreme in its reflection of a colourful Tunisia. The musical form will allow me to stage a new, freer aesthetic expression, to juggle between reality and dream. Music and dance emphasize an outburst of optimism and life and celebrate love. They will lead us into the dreams of the characters and magnify the style of this chaotic romance.”

Film producer Asma Chiboub graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Tunis with a degree in Modern Literature. She has always been interested in cinema and first began to get involved by subtitling short and feature films. She has worked as props assistant, continuity assistant, and more recently as production coordinator on the short film Why me? by Amine Chiboub, before joining the production company Atlas Vision.

“In all its aspects, Toura Foura is underpinned by dreams,” she says. “Habib is an artist who still hopes to emerge as a star, but is involved in gambling, hoping to win the lottery jackpot to allow him and his family to live comfortably. His wife, Lamia, works as an archivist without much enthusiasm. We will see her in the grip of anger but will realise later on, that behind this façade, she hides a vulnerability worn-down by everyday life. Lamia dreams of others being a little less careless.”

“Through an initiatory journey, the protagonists will learn that they are already in possession of true wealth. Even if they do not win the jackpot, they learn again how to dream together. The very choice of a musical comedy is a dream. This story is underwritten by dreamlike incursions in which the author gives free rein to his imagination. The scenery, costumes and make-up will provide support to imagination and fantasy.”

“The film will highlight the potential of young Tunisian talents. It is an ambitious project that intends to launch musicals as a new genre in the history of Tunisian cinema. I am convinced that this film will arouse enthusiasm among a Tunisian audience keen on theatre, dance, music, songs, and entertainment, and open to new forms.”

“More than ever today, Tunisians are looking for diversity and originality as they need to reconcile with their culture. Toura Foura deals with ordinary themes through a sophisticated form and this will attract audiences worldwide. Just like our two lovers, audiences like to dream and we wish to allow them to do so.”


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