Brotherhood, a short film produced in Tunisia, Canada, Sweden and Qatar, has been nominated in the Short Film Live Action category in the 2020 Academy Awards. The 25 minute film tells the poignant story of Mohamed, a shepherd living in rural Tunisia, living with his wife Salha and two sons Chaker and Rayene. He is deeply shaken and suspicious when his estranged eldest son Malek returns home from Syria with Reem, a mysterious young wife wearing a niqaab (face-covering hijab). His wife and sons embrace the couple, despite a radio broadcast covering the Tunisian government’s concerns about the impact of citizens trying to return home after the collapse of ISIS and similar organisations in Syria. Mohammed shares the government’s concerns and is worried his two younger sons may become radicalised by their brother. He’s torn between his love for all his family and his rigid moral code. Brotherhood explores the complexity of familial relationships and the destructive effect of assumptions made without generous and open communication. Dialogue is set in Arabic, though the Vimeo version provides subtitles in German, English (Canada), French, Spanish and Italian.
Brotherhood was produced by director/writer Meryam Joobeur, director of photography Vincent Gonneville, art director Valérie-Jeanne Mathieu, editor Anouk Deschênes, producers Maria Gracia Turgeon, Annick Blanc, Sarra Ben-Hassen at Midi La Nuit, Montreal, and Habib Atti at Cinetelefilms, Tunis, with co-producer Andréas Rocksen at Laika Film & Television, Stockholm.
Sound was produced by Théo Porcet, Jean-David Perron, Aymen Laabidi, Cult Nation. Music was by Peter Venne.
Cast includes Mohammed Houcine Grayaa and Salha Nasraoui, brothers Malek Mechergui, Chaker Mechergui and Rayene Mechergui, and Jasmin Yazid. Film director Meryam Joobeur discovered the two older red headed freckled brothers while visiting North Tunisia. Her request to take their photograph was turned down. When casting for the film she went searching for the family, this time successful in encouraging the three brothers to act in the film.
Funding was provided by Doha Film Institute.
The film poster was designed by Mike Sabbagh.
Writer/director Meryam Joobeur was born in Tunisia, grew up in the USA, and is a graduate of Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema in Montréal. Her previous films include the short documentary Gods, Weeds & Revolutions (2012) and Born in the Maelstrom (2017), starring Sasha Lane. She is currently developing three feature films including a feature film expanding on the themes explored in Brotherhood.