Un Divan à Tunis – being human

Un Divan à Tunis is a great movie that combines fun with food for thought. Selma moves from Paris to Tunis where she was born because Paris has many psychologists and Tunis has none. She wants to be meaningful in her job and Tunisians need her. But… issues occur from unexpected angles…

Tunisia won my heart after I went there to give diversity trainings in several companies. The Dutch are called ‘direct’ in their communication style but hey, nothing beats the Tunisians in their directness. Un Divan à Tunis is certainly no exception to that: on the level of society, there is secretive behaviour but not in the interpersonal contacts. Relations develop in an unexpected way, as well as the plot. This movie is a joy to watch, you won’t be bored!

Selma is a psychoanalist who decides to start a practice in Tunis. In Paris, people can find psychological help at every corner of the street but in Tunis, it is new. Family members think she is crazy to want this, and they think her customers might be crazy too – so they do not want her to have the divan at the rooftop of their house but Selma insists and becomes successful at a short notice. However, life is not that easy for her.

Un Divan à Tunis shows step by step the complexity of Tunisian society. How the Jews are a common ennemy, even though some know nothing about Jews at all. How homosexuality and transgenderism are oppressed at the level of society – and might be accepted at individual level. How a man and a woman cannot be in the same room because it is against morals. Nevertheless Un Divan à Tunis shows several moments where this rule is broken, not because of sexuality but, very interesting, because they help each other, because they want to interact, listen, communicate, show empathy. Being human in this movie is stronger than all the societal rules.

This strong wish to be human, whatever societal problems occur, is what I remember from my visits to Tunisia. It can also be found is this great documentary Danny in Arabistan – Tunisia (in Dutch). I highly recommend Un Divan à Tunis, because it is a funny movie that gives good food for thought while you laugh.