ismaël (Mohamed Ismail Louati) is a filmmaker, visual artist and writer. He is the author, editor, producer and director of approximately twenty films, art videos and audio-visual works including Leila’s Blues (premiered at the Cannes Film Festival Director’s Fortnight 2018) and Babylon (Grand Prix at FID Marseille and Universities Award at DOC Lisboa 2012). He is currently producing 373, Pasteur street, a short essay; shooting The Syrians, a documentary about Syrians in the Lebanon (funded by the Dubai Film Festival, Tunisian-French coproduction Fund, Kamal Lazaar Foundation, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, …) and developing his first narrative feature A woman (funded by the Tunisian Ministry of Culture in 2018). He has also co-founded several filmmaker’s, artist’s and poets’ collectives and associations as well as curating contemporary art exhibitions. His artistic and theoretical work revolves around the questioning of the image and its political shaping in a globalized world.
Against All Odds/Présent Composé
Visual essay by Yasmina Reggad & ismaël
Published in: Pas de Deux: 5 x 2 x 2, Mediterranean dialogues, argobooks, 2014
Ismaël had wanted to be a film director since an early age. Facing the lack of access to equipment, writing appeared to be the only way for him to enter cinema. Throughout the years, Ismaël has compulsively written many screenplays. He seriously intended to turn two of them into feature films, but failed in one case before and in the other too soon after he’d starting shooting. Moreover, this routine immersion into the writing of stories was interrupted when his inspiration ran dry during the three years he spent in Toulouse, France. While he was there, Ismaël was faced with the fact that he was unable to write a story that took place anywhere outside his home country, Tunisia….
Tunisia, 2012, 119′
Directed, cinematography, and sound by ismaël, Youssef Chebbi, Ala Eddine Slim
Edited by ismaël, Ala Eddine Slim
Produced by Exit Productions
On a virgin territory in the wild, people arrive. Soon, a city is built out of nowhere. It is inhabited by several nationalities, people speaking different languages. This new Babylon surrounded by trees and animals is rapidly taking the form of a city, at once ordinary and extraordinary… After the insurrection erupted in Libya in the spring of 2011, more than a million people flocked to neighbouring Tunisia in search of a safe haven from the escalating violence. When a massive refugee camp was hastily constructed near the Ras Jdir border checkpoint in Tunisia, a trio of filmmakers carried their cameras in and began filming with no agenda. This on-the-fly chronicle of the camp’s installation, operation, and dismantling captures a postmodern Babel complete with a multinational population of displaced folk, a regime of humanitarian aid workers, and international media that broadcasts its image to the world.