An ambitious real estate project designed under the Ben Ali regime, the Carthage Gardens neighbourhood stopped mid-development because of the 2011 Tunisian revolution. What remains today is a ghost town made of unfinished buildings. As works finally resume, a burnt corpse is discovered. Fatma and Batal, two cops, are tasked with investigating. But when a second victim is found, their suicide theory falls through…
Mooring his narrative in an urban setting where ultra-modern buildings stand next to abandoned construction sites, Ashkal (which means “shapes” in Arabic) transforms what could have been a traditional crime thriller into something more supernatural. The further the investigation goes, the deeper we plunge into the darkness of the human soul. Soon, wraiths from the Tunisian past start to re-emerge.
Youssef Chebbi studied art and filmmaking before he directed his first project in 2010: a short film entitled Vers le nord. A year later, he co-directed Babylon, a documentary about Lybian refugees at the Tunisian border. The film won the International Competition award at Merseille’s FID, and was screened at the MoMA in New York. The following year, he made another short called Les Profondeurs, which screened at various festivals and was broadcast on France Télévision. Ashkal is his first fiction feature film. It was part of the 2022 Directors’ Fortnight in Cannes.