Programmed by Olivier Barlet
Modern-day Tunis. Three women, three accounts. One thing Houda, Mabrouka and Faouzia have in common is the tasfih, a mystical ritual to protect young women from penetration, whether desired or forced, before marriage. The spell “closes” the girls and “re-opens” the young women the day before their wedding night. “The Lock” talks about the female body, its representations in public and private, and a woman’s place in the home, the family and Tunisian society, offering a contemplation on a legacy torn between tradition and a deep-seated need for liberation.
Both of them coming from journalism, the two directors wanted to examine the persistence of the cult of virginity in North African society. In Tunisia, the tasfih ritual is a symbolic lock. Does it protect or determine? The film does not judge, offering instead the accounts of three women and showing society’s hold over their bodies. They have the courage to say what’s never said, addressing the condition of women, like Houda, gradually revealing their face to the camera. A belief is not a chastity belt, but the will of the protective mother is the rule, castrating any desire for emancipation. How do these oppressed women end up imposing the same oppression on their own daughters? The poetic phrasings of the film breathe life into these examinations.
Film critic and editor for Africultures