N'ÊTRE (12', The Netherlands, 2012)

Screening: Fr, 13 Dec., Elvira Popescu Cinema, 8:00pm

World premiered at IDFA Paradocs 2012, N’ÊTRE is a stylistic experiment on the border between documentary and personal diary. OLFA BEN ALI revisits with warmth and poetic sensibility her childhood neighborhood from Toulouse. By blending contrasting images of a grey overcrowded apartment block, with affectionate recorded conversations with her mother, she takes up the challenge of speaking about ethnic and individual identity. “Our idea of home might be nothing more than a cherished memory, and even though we always feel it flowing inside us, trying to define it is like catching a flame. Olfa Ben Ali probably described it best in her film: Childhood is like the air in a bubble of strawberry flavored bubble gum.” (Max Urai, Impakt Film Festival 2012)

Director: OLFA BEN ALI

With the support of:



Screenplay: Olfa Ben Ali

Cinematography: Olfa Ben Ali

Editing: Olfa Ben Ali

Music: Jessica Dill

Sound: Olfa Ben Ali, Rick Haring

Producer: Olfa Ben Ali

Production: Olfa Ben Ali


World Sales





OLFA BEN ALI (b. Touluse) is an Amsterdam-based visual artist, working in cinema, video art and film installation. In 2012 she graduated from Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. Vision and language interrelate in her works, which deal, in an intimate and poetical way, with the melancholy of loss, hopes for the future and the sometimes stark and harsh contrasts of the present that stands in between past and future. With a Tunisian family background, she belongs to a new generation with strong roots in Western Europe and in North Africa, both historically and emotionally. Using language, her own experiences and minority discourse, she questions the relationship between contemporary migration issues and colonial history. In the present, she is developing a documentary & video installation, entitled IN SEARCH OF HEROES.



IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam – Paradocs 2012

Special Mention – Netherlands Film Festival 2012

Impakt Film Festival Netherlands 2012

Festival International de Films de Femmes, France 2013

Norrköping Film Festival Sweden 2013


“In France, the word banlieue often evokes thoughts of bleakness, poverty and crime. In N'ÊTRE, however, Olfa Ben Ali looks back with nostalgia on her youth in La Reynerie, a 1960s urban expansion project just outside the city of Toulouse. The discreetly filmed images of the rigid, modernist high-rise buildings contrast sharply with the intimate soundtrack, a combination of dreamy sound design and personal memories. BEN ALI remembers how, as a little girl, she used to associate everything with God. Not just the trees and the flowers in the green areas below, but the concrete buildings, too. This was because her mother had taught her that He was everywhere and He saw everything. We also hear her mother, looking back on her own past. In this way, N’ÊTRE paints a warm and subtle portrait of the individual lives behind the austere, uniform façades.” (IDFA Paradocs)

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