Winner of Best First Feature at this year’s Berlinale, Hedi tells the story of a laconic 25-year-old (Majd Mastoura) caught between his overbearing family and a nascent relationship with a free-spirited woman, struck up mere days before his arranged marriage. The unassuming beta male must make a choice: yield to the domineering matriarch and remain the spectator of his own life, or seize control and face an uncertain future. Tunisian director Mohamed Ben Attia subverts expectations by delivering an intimate story about male emancipation which sidesteps overtly political narratives, unlike many Arabic films released post-Arab Spring. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that the character’s personal revolution embodies that of a country torn between the safety of tradition and the uncertainty of modernity, but at no point is this allegory overplayed. Instead, Attia delivers a quietly rousing drama built around terrific performances, which also happens to offer a thoughtful portrait of modern-day Tunisia.
Hedi (Inhebbek Hedi) | Directed by Mohamed Ben Attia (Tunisia, France 2016) with Majd Mastoura, Sabah Bouzouita. Starts September 22