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Revolution Under 5’: Ahl al-Kahf: Streaming Everyday from a Different Cave

  • Post category:English

Revolution Under 5’, a film directed by Ridha Tlili, was screened yesterday, Wednesday, 31st January 2024, at the finale of the “L’Ere documentaire: Tunis 2011” cycle, which highlights a strong selection of documentary films that have explored the Tunisian Revolution from both its political and social dimensions.

With a unique title, distinctive characters, and an exceptional storyline, the film keeps the audience hooked until the very last second. While the title ironically entails that a revolution is never truly done and dusted, which is the case for Tunisia, the characters are real-life artists, poets, and painters who are driven by a strong desire for creativity, rebellion, and questioning.
The film follows the “Ahl el Kahf” Art Movement, which translates to “the people of the cave” and consists of a group of young people who express their protest through wall art. The film conveys a picture of the artists’ obsessions, fears, and predictions, following the 2011 so-called ‘Revolution’ in Tunisia.
‘Ahl el Kahf’ movement seeks to create new aesthetic values and artistic forms that reflect the goal of liberation and freedom, or rather freedom in a broader and deeper concept. It challenges the mainstream and cuts with elitism, thus becoming a part of everyday life for everyone. Their street art is a form of visual art that is open to the public and does not choose its audience but goes to it and forces it to watch. People may interact with it, protest against its content, or bless and admire it. It can be found in public spaces, such as streets, walls, and bridges. It can be used to express a variety of messages, from political protests to personal expressions of creativity. It is their own way of resistance.
One can sense the ambitious spirit of youth that is launched for expression and for the revolution, whether in its artistic aspect through the search for an alternative space with alternative techniques and alternative content, or through the search for a critically overdue political space for a Tunisian society that was predestined to the bare minimum of freedoms.
Co-founded by Med Ali Ltaief and Zied Hadhri, who are two young activists and artists, ‘Ahl Al Kahf’ gave an alternative solace for the artists to express themselves their way; through street art that bursts at the seams with creativity, from gritty graffiti born in forgotten corners to powerful murals taking over towering walls in the center of downtown Tunis. It’s the voice of the unheard, expressed through splashes of paint, bold messages, and even community theater where they used very touching slam poetry to convey their strong beliefs in freedom, resistance, and self-expression.
Their intrinsic shared belief inspired by philosophers like Michel Foucault, and scholars along the lines of Edward Said, enforces their desire to change mindsets amongst the mainstream. One conviction they’d like to eradicate is that of believing that the revolution has achieved its ends once Ben Ali, the former dictator, is gone.
They use their online radio station (web radio) everyday streaming from a different area or region, also known as ‘caves’ since they consider themselves anti-elitists. And thus, they defend people who are, like them, underprivileged living in caves. They insist that their art ought to reach everyone and everywhere.
Women are also well-present in the representation by Ridha Tlili of passionate rebellious young artists who are consistently aiming to defend their freedoms.
‘’Revolution under 5’’’, according to them, epitomizes exactly what happened in Tunisia since 2011. A 5-minute revolution that is now 13 years long.
This film joined a lineup of other outstanding documentaries at the “l’ère documentaire” cycle held at the Cinémathèque Tunis. The screenings, which ran from January 17th to 31st, 2024, were a treasure trove for cinephiles and enriched the Tunisian cinematic library.