Film: Four Daughters




Four Daughters is a riveting documentary featuring a Tunisian family torn apart when two of the four daughters disappeared.

Aged 16 and 15, Ghofrane and Rahma Hamrouni had been radicalised and secretly fled to Libya in 2015 to fight alongside Islamic State rebels.



Since then, their mother, Olfa, has campaigned ceaselessly to persuade Tunisian authorities to bring Ghofrane and Rahma home. They are both in prison in Libya, as well as Ghofrane’s daughter Fatma, now eight.

Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania uses real people and actors to re-enact the story of Olfa’s own traumatic background and the events leading up to her daughters’ disappearance.

Olfa and her two younger daughters, Eya and Tayssir, take part, along with Ichraq Matar and Nour Karoui, playing Ghofrane and Rahma, and Hend Sabri, who plays Olfa in some emotional scenes.



Olfa talks frankly about her alcoholic and abusive husband, whose nose she broke on their wedding night when he tried to have sex with her.

One actor, Majd Mastoura, plays the husband and also the lover Olfa took after her marriage collapsed. He seemed at first like a loving stepfather but turned into a predator.

Olfa grew up in a patriarchic society where women had few rights. She beat her daughters and tried to protect them from the advances of males, but angered them when she told them their bodies belonged only to their husbands, not to themselves.



The real daughters and the actresses playing their sisters look very much alike: all beautiful, dark-haired, dark-eyed.

Without knowing the back story to the film, I often found it confusing – but the love and warmth between the mother and all the sisters was compelling.

The film, in Arabic with subtitles, is on the Academy Awards short list for best international feature and best documentary.

Four Daughters is showing at Luna Leederville (from February 29).


Watch the trailer…