Tunisian docu ends 11-year absence from Cannes

EXCLUSIVE: Tunisian director Mourad Ben Cheikh started shooting his timely documentary “No More Fear” — which unspools in Cannes as a special screening on Friday — on Jan. 14, the day President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country.

Three months later, the helmer and his producer, Cinetelefilms topper Habib Attia, were rushing to get a finished copy of “No More Fear” to Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremeaux, who allowed them to push the deadline.

“We prepared a screenable rough cut, even after the official Cannes press conference,” on April 14, Attia said.

“Then, just two days after it was submitted, they called me and said the film was selected. It was more than a dream.”

It is the first film about the Tunisian uprising that prompted the entire Arab Spring.

“I chose to tell the story of the revolution from a specific angle — fear,” said Ben Cheikh.

“What happened in Tunisia was able to occur only thanks to the disappearance of fear; it was the main tool used by the dictatorship against them taking action.”

Docu interweaves the perspectives of a feisty femme blogger, a female lawyer and human rights advocate, and a male journalist who defends his neighborhood against looters and snipers.

“No More Fear” ends Tunisian films’ 11-year absence from the Cannes official selection. Berlin-based Films Boutique is selling the docu internationally.

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more