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Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane / Feature Narrative / Morocco, Tunisia, France, Belgium, Norway, Qatar / 2022
In Arabic, French
Interests: Drama
Rated: This film has not been rated.

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The Tunisian contemporary dance troupe “Without Borders” is concluding a Moroccan tour. During the penultimate performance in a small Atlas Mountains town, Aida, one of the dancers, provokes Hedi, her life partner, on and off the stage. Hedi injures her in front of the horrified eyes of the other members of the troupe, but without the audience noticing. The performance ends, and Aida leaves the stage with a limp. They must seek urgent medical attention and take to the road to the next village to the only doctor available in the area, in hopes to heal Aida and save the last show. A show that proves to be the most important, or will she be replaced by Nawel, the troupe choreographer who stopped performing ten years ago? On the way, a monkey crosses the road, and the bus goes into a skid and miraculously stops at the side of the road. Without a spare tire, now the troupe is stuck in the middle of the forest. Outside, the full moon brightens over a majestic, yet worrying landscape. A road movie journey commences as the troupe walks through the woods to reach the village. Through their journey, the true face of each of our characters reveals itself. Finally, after a long, arduous night, they reach the doctor’s house in the early hours of the morning, and the new day hails in a different dynamic in the company.

About the Director

After studying cinema, Khalil oversaw Cinemayaat, the San Francisco Arab Film Festival, from 1998 to 2002. The following year, he returned to Morocco and directed his first feature-length documentary, ‘The White Thread’, which he also produced, about Cheb i Sabbah, a World Music DJ who takes Moroccan traditional music, through a “contemporization” process to bring it back to life in a revisited form for new audiences, in both the West and the East. In 2008, he moved to Qatar and worked for Al Jazeera Children Channel, where he produced 76 documentary and fiction films. In 2011, Khalil joined the Doha Film Institute to oversee the film grant programme. Khalil recently co-produced with Lycia Productions, Nouri Bouzid’s latest film, ‘The Scarecrows’, which world premiered in the official selection of the 2019 Venice Film Festival. Lycia Productions contributed as well to ‘Before the Dying of The Light’ by Ali Essafi, which world premiered in 2020 at the Tangier Festival, where it won the Grand Prize for Documentary films, followed by the International Premiere in competition at IDFA.

Following studies in management, Afef Ben Mahmoud obtained a diploma in scriptwriting and direction in 2008, then a Master of Research in Image Design. In parallel to her studies, Afef started directing short films while having devoted herself, from a very young age to an artistic career as a dancer and actress. She began her career by taking part in musical shows under the direction of Fadhel Jaziri. Since, Afef has dedicated herself to her acting career and has participated in numerous theatre, film and television productions. Afef has held leading roles under the direction of great Tunisian directors such as in ‘Making Of’ and ‘The Scarecrows’ by Nouri Bouzid, awarded in many international festivals. Recently, Afef created Mésanges Films, a production company, and produced Nouri Bouzid’s latest film, ‘The Scarecrows’, in which she also plays one of the lead roles. The film had its world premiere in official selection at the 2019 Venice Film Festival in the Sconfini section, where it won the Human Rights Award. Since then, Mésanges Films has been preparing ‘Backstage’, which she is co-directing and co-producing.


Afef Ben Mahmoud and Khalil Benkirane
Afef Ben Mahmoud
Khalil Benkirane (Lycia Productions)
Ghalya Lacroix
Steve Shehan
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