Beauty and the Dogs, Dir. Kaouther Ben Hania, Tunisia / France / Sweden / Norway / Lebanon / Qatar / Switzerland, 2017, 100 mins, Arabic with English subtitles
Director Kaouther Ben Hania’s fiction debut presents a pointed questioning of patriarchal systems, systemic corruption and the narrative of victimhood, based on real events.
Nine single-take sequences follow Miriam over the course of one night. It begins benignly enough at a university fundraising event, where she catches the eye of a handsome new face. The second sequence sees the man pursuing her, his intentions unclear. Miriam next appears dishevelled and petrified. She has just been raped by several policemen. And so a bureaucratic nightmare begins, as Miriam and the man attempt to obtain a medical or police statement in order to report the crime. The film offers sharp social commentary on the agency of a rape victim – questioned rather than believed, engaged in a maddening cycle of victimising behaviour. Miriam’s defiance reveals the manipulation of stigma against her and the underlying systemic corruption, but also the power that she has to resist.
– Elhum Shakerifar
Please be aware this films deals with themes of sexual violence.