Néjia Ben Mabrouk

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Néjia Ben Mabrouk
Born (1949-07-01) 1 July 1949 (age 71)
Alma materTunis University
OccupationScreenwriter, director

Néjia Ben Mabrouk (born 1 July 1949) is a Tunisian screenwriter and director, known for her work on the award-winning film Sama and on the documentary The Gulf War... What Next?.

Early life and education[edit]

Ben Mabrouk was born at El Oudiane, Tunisia, in 1949 and attended boarding school at Sfax. At a young age, she became familiar with European cinema and joined the local film club.[1]:380 Concerning her career plans growing up, she explains:

At that time I didn't want to make my own films, perhaps because there were no role models of women as filmmakers. All the directors were men; for me as a young woman, therefore, the more obvious choice was to tell stories through writing. I dreamed of writing novels.[1]:380

During her college years, Ben Mabrouk first studied French at Tunis University, but had to leave after a few semesters for financial reasons. She began studying filmmaking at INSAS in 1972 at Brussels.[1]:379 Her film education was largely built on critical documentary film.[1]:363 She wrote and directed the film At Your Service for her graduation project in 1976, and then worked as a trainee for RTBF.[2]


From 1979 to 1980, Ben Mabrouk started writing the script for her first full-length feature, Sama (The Trace).[3] The film was finished in 1982, but a dispute with the production company SATPEC delayed the film's release until 1988.[2] Sama won the Caligari Prize at the 1989 Berlin International Film Festival.[4] Sama contains autobiographical elements from Ben Mabrouk's life, and tells the story of a young Tunisian girl seeking an education, which she eventually finds exiled in Europe.[3]

She wrote and directed a fifteen-minute segment titled "In Search of Chaima" for the documentary The Gulf War... What Next? (1991), investigating the impact of war on women and children.[2] She has written the screenplay for her second full-length feature, titled Nuit à Tunis (Night in Tunis).[1]:379


  1. ^ a b c d e Hillauer, Rebecca (2005). "Ben Mabrouk, Néjia (1949–)". Encyclopedia of Arab Women Filmmakers. Translated by Allison Brown; Deborah Cohen; Nancy Joyce. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. pp. 379–384. ISBN 9789774249433.
  2. ^ a b c Leaman, Oliver, ed. (2001). "Ben Mabrouk, Neija (b. 1949, El-Oudiane, Tunisia)". Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film. London: Routledge. p. 505. ISBN 9780415187039.
  3. ^ a b Shafik, Viola (2007). "Cultural Identity and Gender". Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity. Cairo, Egypt: The American University in Cairo Press. p. 204. ISBN 9789774160653.
  4. ^ Sloan, Jane (2007). Reel Women: An International Directory of Contemporary Feature Films about Women. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. ISBN 9780810857384.

External links[edit]