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Meet the Tunisian director whose 'Four Daughters' are making waves at the Cannes Film Festival

Tunisian film director Kaouther Ben Hania
Tunisian film director Kaouther Ben Hania Copyright Vianney Le Caer/2023 Invision
Copyright Vianney Le Caer/2023 Invision
By Frédéric Ponsard
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Euronews Culture speaks to Kaouther Ben Hania director of the Palme d'Or-nominated film entitled 'Four Daughters' has got Cannes talking... and thinking.

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At the Cannes Film Festival, Tunisian film director Kaouther Ben Hania is causing a storm. The academy-award nominated director is in the race for this year's Palme d'Or with her film 'Four Daughters'.

Speaking with Euronews Culture, she described how she felt rubbing shoulders with some of the industry's biggest names.

"I was, not thrilled, but overjoyed when I was announced as being in the official competition, and when I learned the names of the other directors, Ken Loach, Wes Anderson, Wim Wenders... it's just crazy what's happening to me and I'm very happy to be here," she explained.

Set in the context of the 'Jasmine revolution' that brought down Tunisian President Ben Ali in 2011, 'Four Daughters' mixes fiction and reality to tell the story of Olfa, a mother who saw two of her daughters join the Islamic State.

"I found it fascinating how the story of Olfa and her daughters, the small story is linked to the big story of Tunisia, how the Revolution (of 2011) affected their lives - in fact Olfa says it at one point-, "When there was the Revolution I wanted to make my revolution too, divorce my husband, leave..." Freedom, that's it."

The film links real testimonies and re-enacted scenes involving Olfa and her two younger daughters with professional actresses.

Vianney Le Caer/2023 Invision
Olfa Hamrouni, Eya Chikhaoui, director Kaouther Ben Hania, and Tayssir Chikhaoui at the photo call for the film 'Four Daughters' in CannesVianney Le Caer/2023 Invision

The result is the sensitive telling of a unique tale made possible by a film crew composed mostly of women.

"When we started filming, or at least the preparation, I wanted to choose a very feminine team, and even the men who were on the set, I wanted them to be "women's friendly" as they say, because I knew that I was going to take everyone into an intimate confession, something very therapeutic, very introspective and very feminine about Olfa, her daughters, their stories, but also the actresses. It was very important to have a safe space where everyone was empathetic, not judgmental."

21 films are competing for this year's Palme d'Or - which will be awarded on Saturday 27 May.

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