Tafkik (Deconstruction): What happens if the legal system does not work?

By Cristina Casabón

What happens if the legal system does escape from its basic duty to give full rights to its citizens? And what happens if a person slides into desperation and hopelessness and does not find any other protection except criminal organisations – although he knows very well that the end of this way is either death or prison?” This is the context of Tafkik (Deconstruction), one of last films of Ridha Tlili, and is also the real situation that hundreds of thousands are currently facing in Tunisia.

“The transformation from civil peaceful activities arguing for and demanding basic rights to violence and armed organisations became an open phenomenon in the Tunisian society since 2011.” Rhida Tlili is based in Sidi Bouzid, the city where Mohamed Bouazizi sparked a revolution with his self-immolation. “It was the site of the first clashes of the Tunisian Revolution and a catalyst for other protests in the region, often known as the Arab Spring”, says Tlili. Bouazizi was like the hundreds of desperate young people in Sidi Bouzid; a lot of young talented people have university degrees or other qualifications, but spend their days loitering in the cafés lining the streets of this town, 190 miles (300 km) South of the capital Tunis.

This film shows how the lack of opportunities in Tunisia and the state of desperation about the legal system makes young people to get involved in criminal organisations. As the Director of this film says, “many young people started to follow criminal organisations after they were active within a peaceful framework. In order to know the extent of this transformation one only has to look at the huge number of young Tunisians who are active inside radical armed organisations in different conflict areas in the world today.”

Behind the nice headlines about the state of the democracy in Tunisia, there is a hidden beast called organised corruption; the legacy of a pyramidal hierarchy conceived and catered for by the ousted dictator, Ben Ali. Now the position of the decision-maker is dispersed throughout the country among high officials, who are trying to leap forward in an attempt to cleanse themselves of their corrupt past. “Corruption extends to every corner of Tunisia; it can be found in every single sector from education to healthcare to the border customs agency” says Achraf Mnif in Open Democracy.

Depression about the corrupted system, but also about the high unemployment and bad unemployment has been reflected in some studies. In a study led by National Observatory of Youth, “The Youth and Their Participation in General Life, the youth interviewed showed a rather passive attitude about employment measures. The number of those who have had registered across the country employment offices was very limited, namely 37.5%, compared with nearly 63% who preferred not to opt for this approach. In fact, 41.1% of those interviewed indicated that they are not looking for a job anymore.

Indeed, these structural problems are the reasons behind the rise of violence between young Tunisians. “The conviction of violence being a means of change is – in my opinion – nothing than an outcome and not a reason in itself. And the dismantling of this phenomenon requires analysing the hidden factors behind it: the state of desperation about the legal system and about the state in general and the rising conviction that change is not possible except through the reliance on violence and the imposing of change through force.” says Tlili.

This film also wants to shed light on the on-going misunderstandings between generations. Tunisian youth have been fighting a daily battle since 2011 to mark their territory. Perhaps the goals of the revolution are taking longer to be fulfilled due to the lack of participation of the youth in a country invaded by narrow-minded people. Those who are in the margins are feeling attracted by violence, but they have a couple of reasons to be angry. The starting point of the movie is the dismantling of the topics about smuggling, terrorism, justice, oppression, presenting them as the some of the consequences of this system.

The story connects a young girl and a young boy who are wanted by the judicial power because of their involvement in terrorist crimes. They will try to find a solution for their situation leaving the country in a non-legal way, but during their escape they enter in a dark world of crime and smuggle. A crazy love story starts between the two young people while they look for a solution to their situation and a way to prove their innocence, as they are just victims of a corrupt system.

In his work, Ridha Tlili has consistently probed the boundaries between documentary and fiction, cinema tradition and cutting-edge technology. With “Revolution under 5min.” (2011) and “JIHA” (2011) he established his trademark audio-visual style based on a combination of cinema-verité camerawork. Tlili is currently collaborating with Baab Al Shams, providing us with first-hand information about the current situation in Tunisia, with Parliamentary and Presidential elections scheduled to be held on October 26th and November 23rd, respectively.

For more information about Ridha Tlili’s projects, visit AYANKEN FILMPRODUCTION.


Another character from Tafkik (Dé-construction)

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