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Tunisia 2.0: a documentary film about two opposing Tunisians fighting for one democracy.
Tunisia 2.0: a documentary film about two opposing Tunisians fighting for one democracy.
344 backers pledged $40,430 to help bring this project to life.

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$40,430

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Project Update

Thanks to all of you, we made it!!!

We are thrilled to announce that we have met, and then surpassed, our goal, thanks to all of you!! We have been amazed by the amount of support we have been given by friends, family, and those of you we've never met before, like a former Peace Corps volunteer who lived in Bizerte, Tunisia, and the whole families who worked together to rally their networks for our cause. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!!

In the meantime, our story has become more important and timely than ever (http://www.mercurynews.com/nation-world/ci_23766664/jihadis-threaten-tunisias-arab-spring-transition). Sara is on the ground in Tunis with our camera men, who are rolling as they can.

We have made our goal, but there are still people who would like to contribute to our film, which is wonderful. Any money raised beyond our $39,000 will be used to process, transcribe and organize our footage, getting it ready to edit our rough cut.

With many thanks,

Jessie, Sara and the "Tunisia 2.0" team

The Film

What if you ousted a dictator and won a revolution but were denied its freedoms? 

It’s the Revolution of our time. Just as the Prague Spring and the fall of the Berlin Wall were regional events with global repercussions, Tunisia and the Arab Spring are the populist dawn of the 21st century. Tunisia was the catalyst and still stands as the most functional democracy rising from the Arab revolutions.

Tunisia 2.0 juxtaposes the story of Bassem Bouguerra, a Yahoo! software architect-cum-revolutionary-police reformer and Jawhara Ettis, an English professor and Ennahda (Tunisia’s Moderate Islamist Party) member as they try to help guide Tunisia into the democracy both fought so hard to win. 

"Two and a half years after kindling a revolution that flamed across the Arab world, Tunisians have moved on to the next chapter, a political struggle between Islamic fundamentalism and the tolerant, Mediterranean-style Islam that has characterized their nation’s 57 years as an independent state." -Washington Post 06/16/13

Can a true democracy exist in a modern Arab Muslim nation?

Both of our characters are highly invested in the answer to that question being a resounding, "YES!" but, like the Republicans and Democrats in the United States, they have very different ideas of what that democracy should look like.

For Jawhara, whose family was exiled to the desert south of Tunisia for their religious beliefs under former President Ben Ali, the hope of a democratic future brings the promise of religious freedom (the right to wear a headscarf, for example) and the prospect of helping guide her country—which, since its Independence from France has been highly secular—into a more Islamic future.

For Bassem, a true democracy would mean justice for the perpetrators of past evils under Ben Ali as well as the preservation of the more secular freedoms (such as alcohol) he has grown up with. Bassem increasingly fears that Jawhara’s Ennahda party, which won control of the government in the same election that Jawhara won her seat in the Constituent Assembly, is leading the country into a more religious and less prosperous future. Jawhara says that Tunisians need to have more patience, and starting a true democracy after 23 years of autocratic rule takes time.

Heading into the third year after Ben Ali was thrown out, Bassem is the recipient of an $80K Open Society grant he’s using to found citizen organizations and turning his software writing skills against police brutality, helping to build a new Tunisia every way he can. Jawhara is navigating the life of a modern Muslim woman: simultaneously working to help rewrite Tunisia’s constitution as an elected member of the Constituent Assembly and plan her upcoming family with her new husband. 

At this point, making it to the first Tunisian Presidential Elections and having a constitution to show for it would be a huge--and increasingly poignant accomplishment. The world is waiting to see if Tunisia can pull it all off. Through the eyes of these two Tunisians, we are able to gain an intimate understanding of what is really at stake. 

Our story will end with the Presidential elections, slated for the end of this year. The potential repercussions of a revolution hijacked by extremists, political posturing, or simply, lack of patience, would be devastating not only for a region in turmoil, but for a greater world searching for lessons in newly “free” countries.

By supporting Tunisia 2.0 you can help us capture the story of two lives who are on the forefront of determining what democracy means for a generation that has never known it before.

I'm sold. How can I help?

The filmmaking team met Jawhara and Bassem in 2011, when Jessie was living as a Fulbright Scholar in Tunisia, and Sara was there visiting her family.  Using a combination of the initial Fulbright grant, a Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting grant and the good will of our talented Tunisian cameramen, we have been able to cobble together enough shoots to keep the train on track. But now our two stories are coming to a climax. This Kickstarter will ensure that we have the crews on the ground to capture the many crucial moments leading up to the historic post-revolution Presidential elections.

This is where we need your help. You can play a key role at a critical time in our filmmaking process by supplying the vital funding we need to finish primary shooting.

HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS: If we don't reach our Goal then you are not charged and we don't get your money. (NOTE: Kickstarter + processing fees will take about 8% of the money we raise) 

We'd be thrilled if you contributed $10, $25 or $2500, or whatever you can . We aren’t pre-selling widgets (although we do want you all to see the final film!), but we are offering Thank You gifts meant to share part of the film making process with you, because we believe that is one of the more special things we have to offer.

As vital as money is to pay transportation costs and keep cameras rolling, we also need every bit of crowd-sourced support we can gather. Funders and broadcasters need to see that you are hungry for this film. Every single contribution, tweet and “like” will help us make this case.

Thank you. 

The Filmmaking Team

Jessie Deeter, Producer/Director 

Jessie has been producing, reporting and directing documentaries for more than a decade. She is best known as the Producer of Who Killed the Electric Car? which premiered at Sundance and was released by Sony Pictures Classics in 2006. She recently co-produced and directed, Spark: A Burning Man Story, which premiered at SXSW and will be in theaters this summer. She also produced Revenge of the Electric Car, which debuted at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2011 and aired on PBS’s Independent Lens in April 2012, and directed and produced Death by Fire, the documentary that premiered PBS’s FRONTLINE season in 2010.

Sara Maamouri, co-Producer/ Editor

Sara is a Tunisian-born documentary filmmaker and editor based in San Francisco for over a decade. Recent projects include ITVS-LINCS awardee, The Music's Gonna Get You Through (2010), and the Cyprus documentary In This Waiting (2011), a feature length film which premiered at Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, the short documentary Amal's Garden (2012), an official selection of Dubai International Film Festival, Cinema du Reel and Bird's Eye View. She is currently editing Genomania, a feature-length documentary about genetic and biological determinism in the 20th century.

Bassem Aounallah, Camera

Bassem Aounallah got a degree in film studies at ISAMM in Tunis in 2006 and a Masters in 2011.  He has worked as a Director of Photography  in Tunisia on several documentary films for productions based in Tunisia, France, America and UK, as well as some short films and music videos. He has also filmed for television news (Al Jazeera English, CBS News, AFP, CNN).

Hatem Nechi, Camera

Hatem Nechi is a Director of Photography, who studied at the E.D.A.C in 2007.   Hatem was awarded Best Picture in Tunisia at the JCC festival.  His work on international documentaries has inspired his interest in diverse cultures worldwide.

FAQs

For more information on backing a project, please visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/help/faq/backer+questions

If you have questions about the film, you can send an email to us here: email@tunisia2film.com

Risks and challenges

Although starting a film before the funding has come is not the easiest way to get a film made, we’ve done this before. Jessie started “No More War!” a gritty look at the winding down of the bloody Liberian civil war with a small grant from the International Reporting Project [formerly the PEW Foundation for International Reporting]. That film later aired on PBS’s FRONTLINE/World. And Jessie and Sara began “Death by Fire” themselves and later sold the project to PBS’s FRONTLINE, where it premiered the 2010 season.

That said, S*#t happens. The Tunisian elections could be pushed back, for example. While the most recent official statements are placing presidential elections, [and hence our final shoot] as Fall 2013, it is possible that this will slide to 2014. But while an event like that could delay the final air date of Tunisia 2.0, this will not prevent its completion.

This project is personal for us. We have invested a lot of our own time and money in it, and sacrificed much (family time, nights watching “Game of Thrones…”) to make it happen. Why? Because we think that we have a unique angle on a story that has to be told.

Whatever it takes, this film will be completed: Jessie has never worked on a film project that has not successfully aired as a national broadcast or been theatrically released. So while nothing is one hundred percent certain, it’s a solid bet that we will produce this film, that it will be good, and that it will be seen far and wide across multiple platforms.

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    Copy of “Tunis and Beyond,” Larry Michalak’s collection of poems about Tunisia, written in Tunisia between 1964 and 2012, + signed DVD + unique film sticker.
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    Ramadhan Special! Private dinner for 6-8 catered and served in the comfort of your own home. A decadent Tunisian supper (which can be Ramadhan-themed if you like), cooked by co-producer / editor Sara (who comes from a long line of fabulous Tunisian cooks). *Note: If outside the Bay Area, Sara's travel costs may apply.

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Funding period

- (30 days)