August 6, 2018  (Web Review)

A Revolution in Four Seasons

(2016) 90 min. In English, Arabic & French w/English subtitles, DVD: $89: public libraries, $395: colleges & universities. Women Make Movies ( PPR.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Director Jessie Deeter spent five years filming in Tunisia in order to capture post-Arab Spring rebuilding efforts from the perspective of four seasons: “Summer of Hope,” “Autumn of Work,” “Winter of Despair,” and “Spring of Democracy.” She begins in 2011 and ends with a 2015 epilogue. Although her two subjects are young and motivated, there are stark differences: Emna Ben Jemaa is a secularist and Jawhara Ettis is a member of the Islamist party Ennahda, but they are both engaged to men who share their political and religious views. By film’s end, each will have gotten married and had children. Even though Jawhara hails from the remote Tataouine (immortalized in Star Wars) and wears a head scarf, she’s an English teacher who aspires to earn a doctorate. Here, she wins a seat on the Constituent Assembly and helps to write the nation’s new constitution, with her efforts fully supported by her husband. Emna is an activist and journalist (a widely recognized figure, her signature look includes a flower in her hair). With her husband, she forms a non-profit organization dedicated to police reform. As these women do their part for their country, high-profile assassinations and violent protests stall the peace process, frustrating Jawhara, who wants nothing to do with the extremists who are giving Islam a bad name, and leading to death threats for Emma. The women never meet during the documentary, but their efforts pay off since Tunisia’s new constitution helps resolve some of the sociopolitical schisms roiling the country. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (K. Fennessy)