Time for Women! – Ain't No Time for Women

in Regard - Festival international du court métrage au Saguenay

by Jihane Bougrine

Sarra El Abed draws an authentic portrait about women in Tunisia. A short film full of humanity and truth.

The Canadian-Tunisian Director Sarra El Abed, chose to follow her grandmother in a salon. Where all the magic happens. Women are relaxed, they can express themselves, redo the world while they’re primping. Women from different age and background are gathered at Saïda’s, the hairdresser, on the eve of the presidential election. It’s the perfect occasion to talk about politics and all of these smart and free women express how they feel about the subject. “The salon is transformed into a town square, mirroring the internal turmoil of the country. In this female sanctuary, we get an intimate look at the county’s teenage democracy” said the young director who managed to bring out the most of this beautiful reunion.

Humanity, femininity and feminism

It is quite brilliant how Sarra El Abed used the most cliché location, a salon where everything is supposed to be about appearance, where everything is supposed to be shallow. She brings out the truthfulness and shows how life can be political. Women laugh, argue, scream, about all other subjects but hair and beauty. In the run-up to the presidential elections in Tunisia, it is time to give opinions, to be supportive of the people and the democracy. The salon thus becomes an arena of opinions, whether modern or conservative. It doesn’t matter. Only the voice is important, and each woman’s voice counts. They give their pros and cons to the candidates, always well argued. Therefore, the film offers a political lesson for those who know nothing about Tunisia. In this country where women have more rights than the other Maghreb countries, the director confirms that Tunisians are strong, passionate, and free.

Beauty in the dark

As usual, Sarra El Abed knows how to flirt with both fiction and documentary filmmaking, at once sophisticated and brave. The Director anticipates the reactions, the laughs, the opinions. She knows how to position her camera and how to shine the light on a smile, a look, an emotion. Beautiful and discrete cinematography, the photography is gracious and intelligent. The lights are well chosen, the film looks natural and sincere. The mise en scene is discrete and well thought. The camera is always where it is supposed to be. The director knows how to breathe whimsy into the ordinary, how to transform normal to exceptional. The daily situations become universal in a short time. These women are the Tunisian people’s voices, this behind closed doors is the image of contemporary Tunisia. After the Revolution of 2011, what happened? Is it better now? Or worse? What is there for the future? All these questions are drawn in Tunisian minds, also probably in all the Arab and Muslim world. Africa as well, where dictators take power and fool the people. In this darkness, this anger sometimes, hope is always there.

After arguing or getting mad, the smiles and the laughs always win. Sarra El Abed managed to create a comedy in the drama. Because the political situation in this part of the world is dramatic, nonetheless. So, a valid question arises: how can people laugh about it? This is what this young and talented director proved in Ain’t No Time for Women (Ya pas d’heure pour les femmes).  She put heart and soul into the telling of the story, into filming a beautiful tribute to her grandmother and all the important women in her life, a beautiful tribute to her country. And the ending is perfectly suitable, showing how these powerful women take the lead in the movie, even in the generic sense. The film offers a way to remind us that each one of them is the  “master of her soul, the captain of her life”.

Jihane Bougrine
Edited by Savina Petkova