Imams Go to School
France, United Arab Emirates
From the director of ZAINEB HATES THE SNOW presented at Dubai Film Connection
Why are these imams in training taking courses at the Catholic Institute of Paris, in addition to their theological studies at the city's Great Mosque? This is because the French government wants to ensure that they understand the principles of the Republic, with its freedom of conscience and religion and its strict division between church and state. Paradoxically, the Sorbonne refused to offer this course for religious students, which means they will have to settle for the Catholic Institute. They could have done worse: the director of these courses is a flamboyant man who teaches like an actor on a stage and protects his students from the press when necessary. The less-than-good-natured way in which the division between the French state and the Catholic Church took shape offers some intriguing teaching material. In her first feature-length documentary, Kaouther Ben Hania, who studied in both Tunis and Paris, captures this unique intercultural encounter in calm, careful observations free of interviews, commentary or music. She follows the students in the mosque, in their classes on secularity, on trips to Catholic sites, as well as when they are mulling over their experiences together. These are intelligent men at work to provide shape to the future of Islam in Europe.
- Kaouther Ben Hania
- Denis Gravouil
- Walid Mattar
- Tuong Vi Nguyen Long
- WHO'Z PROD
I love characters who are left with no choices
Director and screenwriter, Kaouther Ben Hania, born in Sidi Bouzid (Tunisia), initially studied commerce, then entered the École des Arts et du Cinéma de Tunis (EDAC) where she made three short films: LA BRECHE (2004), followed by ME, MY SISTER AND "THE THING" (2006), WOODEN HAND (2013) and her first feature film, CHALLAT OF TUNIS (2013), which opened the section ACID in Cannes in 2014 and won the Syndicat Français de la Critique de Cinéma prize at the Amiens festival. Her feature ZAINEB HATES THE SNOW (2016) premiered at FF Locarno. Her BEAUTY AND THE DOGS (2017) screened in the Un Certain Regard section of the 70th Cannes FF.