60 minutes, 2011

Production – A Bout de Souffle Production /Belgique

[easyembed field = “hymen”]

“National Hymen” tackles the delicate subject of the surgical reconstruction of the hymen, hymenorrhaphy, a practice becoming more and more common in Tunisia. In a country considered as a model for the rest of the Arab-Muslim world on how to change and modernise, it is still the essential for a bride to be a virgin on her wedding day. Loss of virginity will exclude her. Young women confronted with this problem have no choice: to avoid shame and build a future among her friends, she needs surgery. Hymenorrhaphy, painful and never mentioned, is a surgical operation to resew the hymen, thus guaranteeing bleeding during the wedding night. By following one particular case, with personal accounts of other young women in the same distressing situation, the film contributes to a real national debate. Intellectuals, religious leaders, liberated students or ordinary citizens of a country going through great changes, they all question the logic behind keeping this practice alive.

Jamel MOKNI was born in 1964, growing up in a poor family in northern Tunisia. After his baccalaureat, he studied science in Tunis, where he created a film club. In 1990 he went to Belgium to study cinema, graduating in Film Technique at INRACI then continuing his studies at ULB, reading Film Writing Analysis and Technique. He worked in broadcasting, making commercials, magazine programmes and video clips. He also made several short films, and in 1999 created a production company, A Bout de Souffle Production.