Shot during the Arab Spring, writer-director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud's prize-winning period suspense drama examines the historical roots of Tunisia's long slide into tyranny.
The personal becomes painfully political in this quietly engrossing retro-thriller, which dramatizes the struggle for social justice and human rights in late 1970s Tunisia. Scooping the best actor prize earlier this week in the Arab cinema strand of the Doha Tribeca Film Festival, Professor forensically dissects the last few decades of Middle Eastern tyranny by unpicking one man's tortuous moral complicity in it.
Written and directed by the Tunisia-born, Belgium-based veteran Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud, Professor has an old-school, literary, auteur feel. A classic festival film, in other words, with limited potential in foreign markets beyond the specialist art-house circuit. All the same, this Tunisia-France-Qatar co-production is a universal human story that trains a critical eye on recent history in a similar manner to Chile's Pablo Larrain, the renowned Greek director Costa-Gavras, or even the brave social commentators in current Iranian cinema.
(Synopsis courtesy of the 2012 Doha Tribeca Film Festival)