'Fin Decembre' spurs gender equality debate
By Houda Trabelsi for Magharebia in Tunis – 24/09/10
Tunisian director Moez Kammoun wanted to convey a message of equality between men and women in his new film, "Fin Decembre" ("Late September"). The romantic drama accomplishes much more, bringing in issues ranging from immigration to premarital sex.
The movie revolves around Aicha, a 20-year old rural girl who dreams of a better life. She loves a local young man but he emigrates, leaving her pregnant. Another young man arrives in her village to find a bride, Aicha believes he will rescue her, but he is narrow-minded, despite his years abroad. The arrival of an unexpected suitor changes her life forever.
"The idea was based on a personal observation of the life and ambitions of rural women and the need to change our views of them," Kammoun told Magharebia. "Rural girls have their own dreams and hopes, exactly like urban women. Although Aicha was living in tough circumstances, she was aspiring to a better and happier life."
"I believe in equality between men and women," he noted. "I also believe that there should be no differences between them in terms of rights, especially rights related to personal and emotional life."
Hend Fahim, who plays Aicha, told Magharebia that Kammoun did not want his film to focus on the main character's problems.
"He focused more on her dreams and aspirations in order to get a message across to the audiences. Problems that girls are facing in Tunisia or any other countries in the world, such as loss of virginity or illegitimate pregnancy …can't be an obstacle impeding them from realising their dreams," Fahim said.
Lotfi Abdelli described his character Sofiene as "the young man every girl dreams of to get her to a better life". He noted that Sofiene "disappoints Aicha with his cowardice and backwardness, even though he lives in the country of 'openness'".
"Sometimes men who live in Tunisia exceed Sofiene - who lives in Europe - in terms of openness and their views of women," Abdelli added.
The movie is stirring debate, with audiences voicing praise or extreme disapproval. "I was frankly shocked with this daring approach, as if the girl who commits a sin and becomes pregnant illegitimately has become innocent and wronged!" Moez Elbeiji said.
For Leila Melki, however, the "film managed to show the problems keeping women from realising their personal and professional goals".
"Why are women prohibited from doing the things that men are permitted to do in our society, although Islam was just and treated both with equality?" she asked.
Another fan, Nahed Arouss, was pleased to see how the film called attention to a double standard: "It shows the reality of Tunisian girls in the countryside or in the city, who are held accountable for their feelings and personal relations, even if sincere, unlike men who see some sort of pride in their multiple relations."
"Frankly, girls in Tunisia are still suffering from injustice from men and society," Nahed noted. "Moez Kammoun wanted to show his support for the emancipation of women."
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