Docpoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival

Programme

Machtat

Fatma and her daughters Najeh and Waffeh live in a small Tunisian village. The women work as machtats, traditional musicians who perform in wedding celebrations. Bills and blessings rain down in the parties as they perform. They dance in front of the camera to the beat of darbuka, and the ecstatically atmospheric documentary is sure to raise your heartbeat multiple times before the credits roll.

However, the heart does not only beat out of love. The everyday lives of the bringers of joy are a lot harsher and sadder. Fatma is a widow whose daughters struggle with their own problems. Najeh would like to remarry, but it is difficult for a 35-year-old woman who has already been married. Living with a violent man, Waffeh looks for ways to divorce her spouse.

Men are present in women’s lives but are not seen much in the film. Director Sonia Ben Slama has explained that she wanted to be close to her subjects, which lead to men being left mostly outside the frame. Having chosen a difficult subject, Ben Slama admits that during filming, she was stressed about the reactions that Fatma and her daughters would have to the finished documentary. The fear turned out to be unfounded, as the film moved the women and made them laugh.

Omar Fasolah (translated by Inari Ylinen)

Language: Arabic
Subtitles: English
Length: 82 min
Age Limit: K7
Year: 2023
Production Country: Lebanon, Tunisia, France, Qatar

Director: Sonia Ben Slama
Producer: Tania El Khoury, Cécile Lestrade
Production Company: Khamsin Films, Alter Ego Productions
Distribution Company: Blooming Docs
Screenplay: Sonia Ben Slama
Editing: Young-Sun Noh
Cinematographer: Evgenia Alexandrova
Sound Design: Rana Eid