Leïla’s Trial

Charlie Kouka
Tunisia - France

Synopsis

Accused of terrorism, fourteen-year-old Leïla is escorted in handcuffs to a courtroom by two policemen. In flashback, we witness the day, a year earlier, that Leïla's life changed when her young neighbour, Taqwa, attempted suicide. Driven by sudden inspiration, Leïla dissuades Taqwa by reasoning with her piety. So begins Leïla's journey towards an exaggerated religious awakening. More or less consciously, she uses religion to emancipate herself in a country where the pious are admired. Leïla gains several labels - to some, she is a saint; to others, a witch.

Fiction
1st feature
Production

Unité (France)
Caroline Nataf
info@unite-films.com

Director’s statement

After the Tunisian revolution of 2011, some of my former classmates left to join the ranks of Daech. Their intense religious conviction made me wonder. When I learned that among these candidates for jihad there were as many women as there were men, a parallel with the figure of Joan of Arc came to mind. The idea of this film is based on this question: What would the life of a Joan of Arc living in our time be - and moreover, one who practises the Muslim faith? I seek to portray a woman who embodies a form of lucid radicalism. Such a figure is rare in cinema; perhaps she does not yet exist. A film about a trial dealing with an issue as sensitive as radical Islam is ambitious but, beyond examining a topical subject, I want to make a film about power - in this case, the power taken by a woman through religion.

Biographies

Charlie Kouka
Charlie Kouka
Director

Born in Tunisia, Charlie Kouka obtained a diploma in Optics. The desire to create cinema saw her change her life by completing a Master’s degree in film production. She then went to France, where she was admitted to La  Fémis,  from which  she  graduated  in directing. During her studies, Kouka directed several short films, the most recent of which, Rajâa (The Return), was purchased by Arte.

Caroline Nataf
Caroline Nataf
Producer

Unité was created by Bruno Nahon and Caroline Nataf in 2014 with the intent of operating in all forms of  media and transmission, to tell the world’s stories. Having produced numerous documentaries, Unité now produces series and cinema with the same desire: to go where others do not. All of Unité’s productions have been selected for series festivals, among them Séries Mania and the Berlinale, and film festivals including those of Cannes, Venice, Toronto and Berlin.

Total budget

€960 000

Shooting period and locations

Beginning of 2023, Tunisia

Expected delivery

End of 2023

Looking for

Script consultants, potential co-producers, regional and national funds, international sales

Pitch

Other Projects in development