Contemporary French Civilization

Reworlding Tunisia: sacrifice in post-revolutionary cinema

Contemporary French Civilization (2018), 43, (1), 33–54.

Abstract

Sacrifice permeates narratives of revolution and of national identity. In the context of the 2011 Tunisian revolution, the visual trope of sacrificeas-legitimacy has accrued particularly strong domestic and transnational force. This essay explores how the visual trope of sacrifice emanates from, and circulates through, recent documentaries and fiction films including Serge Moati’s Artistes en Tunisie (2013), Nadia El Fani’s Même pas mal (2012), Amine Chiboub’s Résistance (2013), and Moncef Barbouch’s Conflit (2014). These works highlight the visual circulation, recycling, and redefinition of sacrifice as integral to the history of the popular uprising. As a figure of dissent, sacrifice works by exceeding and pushing back against mainstream ideologies, articulating revolutionary calls for democratization. Yet it can also bolster monolithic formulations of national and religious belonging. In tracing a range of recent filmic depictions of sacrifice, I ask what is captured in, and what escapes from, this powerful figure. Finally, how might sacrifice work to “reworld” – reinvent, redefine, and reposition the Tunisian cultural identities mediated in film? Given Maghrebi cinema’s progressive “de-orbiting” (Martin) from its traditional economic centers, toward a more dynamic, transnational culture of cinéma-monde, what are the stakes for Tunisia’s new, multiple, and competing figurations of revolutionary sacrifice?

Le concept du sacrifice imprègne les récits de la révolution et de l’identité nationale. Dans le contexte de la révolution tunisienne de 2011, le trope visuel du sacrifice assume une signification qui s’avère particulièrement puissante aux niveaux domestique et transnational. À partir d’une analyse de films et de documentaires récents (Artistes en Tunisie, Serge Moati, 2013; Même pas mal, Nadia El Fani, 2012; Résistance/Sumud, Amine Chiboub, 2013; Conflit, Moncef Barbouch, 2014), le présent article se propose d’étudier le trope du sacrifice qui en émane. Ces films soulignent la circulation et la redéfinition du sacrifice, élément intégrant du sort du soulèvement général. Comme figure du dissensus, le sacrifice excède et résiste à l’idéologie dominante, exposant l’appel révolutionnaire à la démocratisation. Cependant cette figure peut également renforcer des discours monolithiques d’appartenance nationale et religieuse. En traitant des représentations visuelles du sacrifice, nous cherchons à identifier ce qui y est capté, et ce qui s’en échappe. Enfin, comment est-ce que cette figure “re-monde” – c’est à dire réinvente, redéfinit, et repositionne – les identités culturelles tunisiennes médiatisées dans le cinéma? Étant donné le “dé-orbitage” (Martin) du cinéma maghrébin, qui s’éloigne progressivement de ses centres économiques traditionnels pour créer un “cinéma-monde” véritablement dynamique et transnational, quels sont les enjeux des nouvelles figurations, multiples et concurrentielles, du sacrifice révolutionnaire en Tunisie?

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Bady, Aaron. “Spectators to Revolution: Western Audiences and the Arab Spring’s Rhetorical Consistency.” Cinema Journal, vol. 52, no. 1, Fall 2012, pp. 137–142. Spectators to Revolution: Western Audiences and the Arab Spring’s Rhetorical Consistency Cinema Journal 137 142 Google Scholar

Chrostowska, S.D. “The Spring and the Reel: On Film and Revolution.” Boundary 2, vol. 44, no. 2, 2017, pp. 95–125. The Spring and the Reel: On Film and Revolution Boundary 2 44 95 125 Google Scholar

“Conflit” Film official website. Accessed 3 Sept. 2016. http://www.conflit-lefilm.com/ (Please note this website was removed by January 2017.) Google Scholar

Edwards, Carole, editor. Le Sacrifice dans les littératures francophones. Rodopi, 2014. Le Sacrifice dans les littératures francophones Google Scholar

El Fani, Nadia. Interview with Anne Tézenas du Montcel. 2011. Nadia El Fani. Laïcité, Inch’Allah! Jour2fête, 2012. DVD bonus material. Laïcité, Inch’Allah! Google Scholar

Ezra, Elizabeth, and Terry Rowden. “General Introduction: What is Transnational Cinema?” Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader, edited by Elizabeth Ezra and Terry Rowden, Routledge, 2006, pp. 1–12. General Introduction: What is Transnational Cinema? Transnational Cinema: The Film Reader 1 12 Google Scholar

Gana, Nouri. “Visions of Dissent, Voices of Discontent: Postcolonial Tunisian Film and Song.” The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects, edited by Nouri Gana, Edinburgh UP, 2013, pp. 181–208. Visions of Dissent, Voices of Discontent: Postcolonial Tunisian Film and Song The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects 181 208 Google Scholar

Gharbi, Aymen. “À la découverte de ‘Conflit,’ film sur la répression des islamistes en Tunisie, réalisé sans subvention.” HuffPost Tunisie, 28 Jan. 2015, https://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2015/01/28/film-tunisie-conflit_n_6561882.html Google Scholar

Haugbølle, Rikke Hostrup. “Rethinking the Role of the Media in the Tunisian Uprising.”The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects, edited by Nouri Gana, Edinburgh UP, 2013, pp. 224–251. Rethinking the Role of the Media in the Tunisian Uprising The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects 224 251 Google Scholar

Kahlaoui, Tarek. “The Powers of Social Media.” The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects, edited by Nouri Gana, Edinburgh UP, 2013, pp. 159–180. The Powers of Social Media The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects 159 180 Google Scholar

Kribi, Adjil. “Résistance: un court métrage diffusé sur les réseaux sociaux qui fait le buzz (VIDÉO).” HuffPost Maghreb, 10 Mar. 2017, http://www.huffpostmaghreb.com/2013/10/25/resistance-court-metrage_n_4158100.html. Google Scholar

Lang, Robert. New Tunisian Cinema: Allegories of Resistance. Columbia UP, 2014. New Tunisian Cinema: Allegories of Resistance Google Scholar

Machta, Insaf. “Le film et les malentendus de la révolution: l’affaire Nadia Al Fani [sic] et Persepolis.” Nawaat.org, 30 May 2012. Web. Le film et les malentendus de la révolution: l’affaire Nadia Al Fani [sic] et Persepolis Google Scholar

Marks, Monica. “Women’s Rights before and after the Revolution.” The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects, edited by Nouri Gana, Edinburgh UP, 2013, pp. 224–251. Women’s Rights before and after the Revolution The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects 224 251 Google Scholar

Martin, Florence. “Cinéma-monde: De-orbiting Maghrebi Cinema.” Contemporary French Civilization, vol. 41, no. 3–4, 2016, pp. 461–475. Cinéma-monde: De-orbiting Maghrebi Cinema Contemporary French Civilization 461 475 Google Scholar

Mekki, Thameur. “Sur Hannibal TV: Récit expéditif d’un ‘Conflit’ qui ne dit pas son nom.” Nawaat.org, 15 Jan. 2016. Web. Sur Hannibal TV: Récit expéditif d’un ‘Conflit’ qui ne dit pas son nom Google Scholar

“Nobel Peace Prize for Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet.” BBC News, 9 Oct. 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34485865 Google Scholar

Rijke, Alexandra, and Toine van Teeffelen. “To Exist Is to Resist: Sumud, Heroism, and the Everyday.” Jerusalem Quarterly, no. 59, 2014, pp. 86–99. To Exist Is to Resist: Sumud, Heroism, and the Everyday Jerusalem Quarterly 86 99 Google Scholar

Shafik, Viola. Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity. American U in Cairo P, 2007. Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity Google Scholar

Snowdon, Peter: “The Revolution Will be Uploaded.” Culture Unbound, vol. 6, 2014, pp. 401–429. The Revolution Will be Uploaded Culture Unbound 401 429 Google Scholar

Wafa, Sdiri. “Tunisie: 338 martyrs et 2147 blessés victimes de la Révolution et les snipers n’existent pas.” Tunisie Numérique, 5 May 2012. Web. Tunisie: 338 martyrs et 2147 blessés victimes de la Révolution et les snipers n’existent pas Tunisie Numérique Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Bliss, Greta