Babylon

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    Babylon

    Directed by

    • Ala Eddine Slim, Ismaël, Youssef Chebbi

    Tunisia

    2012

    121 min

    • French
    • English
    • Arabic

    Documentary

    Between the Ras Jdir check-point separating Tunisia and Libya, and the town of Ben Guerdanne, there isn’t much except open countryside. During spring 2011, more than a million refugees of various nationalities and languages flocked to Tunisia, fleeing escalating combats in Libya between revolutionaries and pro-Gaddafi forces. Only a few weeks after the Tunisian revolution, a temporary town had to be built in the south of the country in order to accommodate the refugees as quickly as possible. The three directors, Ismaël, Youssef Chebbi and Ala Eddine Slim have chosen to bring their cameras to the building site. Not “to cover” the event, as journalists put it, but rather to discover it while it was happening, almost as disconcerted as the people it was happening to. We get to see the whole operation, from installation to demolition. The early stages of the work, the digging, the pulling up of the first tents, the international media, the NGOs, the military, and then the refugees, in this particular case, men only. Life slowly settles. People eat, take their minds off things with dance, music or sport, and they pray. There are also tensions, frictions. Until finally, the migrants move again and the town gets packed. The directors made a decisive choice: there aren’t any subtitles, despite the babelization of languages, suggested by the title. We can only rely on images, without the deceitful comfort of commentaries or translations, which would have made us think that we understood or shared something at this stage of ongoing exodus.

    Awards

    • Grand Prix / International Competition - FID Marseille
    • Faculdade de Belas-Artes da Universidade de Lisboa Award - Doclisboa

    Credits

    Cinematography
    Ala Eddine Slim
    Youssef Chebbi
    Ismaël Chebbi
    Editing
    Ala Eddine Slim
    Ismaël Chebbi
    Production
    EXIT PRODUCTIONS

    Press

    An outstanding documentary...

    Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter