Challat of Tunis

African Pictures

SIFF Says:

"Sexist attitudes in Arab culture get an ironic feminist send up in Kaouther Ben Hania's genre-bending mockumentary. Based on real events, the film investigates a 2003 spate of knife attacks, in which a masked assailant rode through the Tunisian capital on a motor scooter slashing the backsides of women in jeans and short skirts. Nicknamed “Challat,” after the Gillette brand of razor, the attacker became a kind of folk hero to religious and social conservatives, punishing women for not dressing “respectfully.” As part of her exploration, Ben Hania interviews victims, prison guards, detectives, lawyers and ordinary citizens (some clearly fictionalized, others apparently real) and discovers technological innovations such as the Virgin-O-Meter and a videogame in which players must slash only women whose heads are uncovered. In a country where private and public life are still coming to terms with one other and with women’s search for emancipation, Challat Of Tunis is the director’s powerful interrogation of the sexual politics of her newly democratic homeland."

Stranger Says:

At the end of Challat of Tunis, I was in such disbelief that I went back and watched the credits again, then finally, asking myself, “Can this be real?” I googled, and, well, yes and no. It’s a mockumentary about a man who slashed women’s butts in Tunisia and was never caught. That part is real! (It happened in 2003. Religious conservatives said the women deserved it, and the “Challat,” or “Blade,” as he was nicknamed, became a folk hero.) The not-real part is female Tunisian writer-director Kaouther Ben Hania’s parodic “attempt” to solve the mystery and expose Tunisian machismo. Every scene is more outrageous, ridiculous, and brilliant. (JEN GRAVES)

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Film Credits
Kaouther Ben Hania
Jallel Dridi, Moufida Dridi, Mohamed Slim Bouchiba, Narimène Saidane
SIFF 2015