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The Nazi occupation of Tunisia strains the bonds of friendship between a Muslim woman and a Sephardic Jewess who are both preparing for their marriages in Karin Albou’s The Wedding Song (Le chant des mariées, France/Tunisia 2008).

Tunis, 1942: Against the Allied bombs and the goose steps of the Nazi occupiers, two teenage girlfriends, one Muslim, the other Jewish, cling to the bond they’ve shared since childhood. Between these two, there are no secrets. In her bold second feature, The Wedding Song, Karin Albou returns to the themes of her first, La petite Jerusalem: mapping the intersection of Jewish and Arab cultures and exploring female sexuality. Nour (Olympe Borval) is engaged to handsome Khaled, a physical attraction that Myriam (Lizzie Brocheré) takes vicarious pleasure in abetting. Myriam, for her part, has opportunity Nour lacks, namely an education, until the outspoken girl gets herself expelled from school. Outside the female quarters, the world shared by Jews and Arabs is being split by German promises of liberation—they’ll rid Tunis of the French and the Jews. Myriam and her mother Tita (played by director Albou) are no longer safe, and Tita attempts to marry her reluctant daughter to a wealthy doctor to save them both. How thoroughly Jewish and Arab female worlds are merged is evident in the elaborate, intimate preparation of the bride for her wedding night, “Oriental style;” how thoroughly politics have infused the personal is evidenced by what happens after the wedding. Marriage, like friendship, becomes a test of ethics and courage. — Judy Bloch, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

Written by Albou. Photographed by Laurent Brunet. With Lizzie Brocheré, Karin Albou, Simon Abkarian, Olympe Borval. In French, Arabic and German with English subtitles. 100 min. Distributed by Strand Releasing.

Official Website: http://www.sffs.org/content.aspx?pageid=1277

Added by cinesoul on September 16, 2009

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