Oscar-nominated Tunisian filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania’s powerful drama “Four Daughters” which mixes documentary and fiction to tell the story of Tunisian mother whose two elder daughters joined ISIS is scoring a slew of sales following its well-received Cannes competition premiere.
French company The Party Films Sales has sealed deals on “Four Daughters” for: Benelux (Cineart); Spain (Caramel Films); Italy (I Wonder); Switzerland (Trigon); Sweden (Triart); Denmark (Camera Film); Norway (Arthaus); Finland (Cinemanse); Poland (New Horizons); Greece (Ama Films); former Yougoslavia (Discovery) and Turkey (Bir Film).
Rights to the film for multiple other territories are under negotiations, the company said.
Ben Hania – whose previous works comprise “Beauty and the Dogs” and “The Man Who Sold His Skin” – in “Four Daughters” delves into the story of Tunisia’s Olfa Hamrouni who rose to international prominence in April 2016 when she publicized the radicalization of her two teenage daughters who had left Tunisia to fight with ISIS.
The film, which is the only Arab entry in this year’s Cannes competition, stars Egyptian-Tunisian star Hend Sabry in the lead role of an actor who must play Hamrouni and gets coaching from the real Olfa on how to prepare for the role. It also stars two of the four daughters as themselves and actresses Ichraq Matar and Nour Karoui as the two other daughters lost to ISIS.
“What interested me,” said Ben Hania, in an interview with Variety “Is that it’s a women’s story and also a story of adolescent women. They are teenagers when everything happened. So what does it mean to be a teenager in a context like this? What does it mean to start thinking about sexuality with a mother that does not want to hear about your sexuality or your desire? In a world where desire is punished.”
Variety critic Jessica Kiang in her review called “Four Daughters” a “Compelling, ambitious hybrid” and noted that one of the aspects that makes the film gripping is that “We’re not used to seeing this overtly experimental an approach applied to a story about the daily struggles of Arab women in a majority-Islamic North African country.”
As previously announced, at Cannes The Party Films Sales is also launching pre-sales on Ben Hania’s next film “Mimesis,” an epic love story set in Tunisia. While the plot is under wraps, the story is set in two different periods, the 1990s and the 1940s, and pays tribute to cinema and Arab-Muslim cultural heritage.
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