In the video interview above, filmmaker Youssef Chebbi shares some of the behind-the-scenes stories around Babylon, the feature-length non-fiction film he co-directed with ismaël [sic] and Ala Eddin Slim. Accomplished in spite of difficult odds, with practically no funding, and ‘home-brewed’ by the maverick Tunisian production house Exit, Babylon premiered at FID Marseille earlier this year, where it earned the Grand Jury Prize, and has since earned a prize at Doc Lisboa, in addition to wide critical acclaim. Locked home in Tunis because of the curfew, directors Ala Eddin Slim, ismaël, and Yousef Chebbi, along with producer Chawki Knis, decided to head out to the Tunisian-Libyan border after watching news reports of hundreds of thousands guest-workers fleeing armed conflict in Libya and pouring into Tunisia. The idea was to capture images that would tell an entirely different story than broadcast media and to transpose to film the lived experience of the refugees. Babylon combines marvelous footage shot by the three different directors that reflects each of their own personal voices as they witness the almost full life cycle of a refugee camp.
Babylon will be screened on Monday, November 19, in MoMA’s Theater 1 at 8:00 p.m. as part of the film exhibition Mapping Subjectivity: Experimentation in Arab Cinema from the 1960s to Now, Part III , the third and final installment of MoMA’s exploration of Arab cinema, which runs through November 25.