Karim Alexander Pitstra
Karim Alexander Pitstra, better known as Alex Pitstra, directed his first film at the age of fifteen, for a school project. Then when he studied Audio-visual Communication in Leeuwarden, he made the short film Mixtape in 2004, based on his own experiences as a DJ/producer in the music industry. He then followed a Film Studies MA-programme, (one of the disciplines of the Arts, Culture and Media Studies), at the University of Groningen, and made the short, absurdist film Solex in 2006.
Pitstra directed two shorts for the 48 Hour Film Project and was cameraman for a number of films, including the fictional films Nicci (2011, Arjen Nolles), Sam (2011, Roeland Dijksterhuis, Pepijn Sonneveld) and Prooidieren (2008), Holland (2009) and Bebop (2011) by Thijs Gloger. He also did camera work and editing for projects of the Groningen based director Nathalie Beekman (Pavlov E-lab). Furthermore, he was commissioned to make countless films for clients like Rijkswaterstaat (the executive arm of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment) and the local council of Groningen.

Thijs Gloger
Autodidact Thijs Gloger made his first film at secondary school, and has continued to make numerous films ever since. His first success was Holland (2009). This film was selected for the international film festivals in Moscow and Buenos Aires. Holland was the first collaboration between Gloger and producer Rene Houwen, under the name Schaftkip Films. After Holland, they produced Prooidieren (2010) and Bebop (2011). Gloger’s latest film, Buitenlanders/Foreigners/Ausländer, is a triptych that he realised in collaboration with the directors Joren Molter and René Houwen. The film premiered in September 2012 at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht.

Abdelhamid Naouara
26-year-old Abdelhamid Naouara studies philosophy at the University of Tunis. He started acting when he was still at school, and continued to do so as a university student. In 2006 he joined the theatre company of Korba, his native town, and he featured in several theatre productions in both Korba and in Tunis. Die Welt is Naouara’s film debut.


Background
On January 14, 2011 Ben Ali’s regime is overthrown, and the dictator flees to Saudi Arabia. The Jasmine Revolution is the onset of the Arab Spring, and Alex Pitstra, who lives in the Netherlands, is intrigued by the developments that are taking place in the North African country. The past couple of years, the Groningen based filmmaker has been thinking about making a film in his father’s country, but the plans for his script rapidly succeed when the revolution breaks out.
Karim Alexander Ben Hassen is the son of a Tunisian father and a Dutch mother, and he grows up in the Netherlands. His father, Mohsen Ben Hassen, is absent for the most part of his life, both during his childhood and his adult years. At sixteen, he changes his Tunisian last name to that of his mother (Pitstra), and from then on, only his appearance gives away his Arab descent. “I don’t remember much of my childhood years with Mohsen,” says Pitstra. “I remember that he taught me how to ride a bike. And him fighting with my mother. I used get angry when I thought of him, but I was confused too. And at some point he kind of ceased to exist for me.”
When Alex is 25 years old, he receives a letter from his father, asking him to come and visit him in Ben Arous, an area on the outskirts of Tunis. His absent father wants a second chance to get to know the son that he’s only known during his infant years. A couple of months later Pitstra is on a plane on his way to Tunis.
“I had no idea what to expect. Maybe my father was a member of the Taliban, living in a mud hut, deep in the desert, surrounded by goats”. This was not the case. Mohsen turned out to be a good-natured family man and devout Muslim. “My father came to the Netherlands in his twenties, with false illusions of what to expect. At the same time he was pressured by his family to build up a successful life in this foreign country. He could not live up to their expectations.”
After his adventure in the Netherlands, Mohsen travelled to Switzerland, where he had a daughter with a Swiss woman. When this marriage also failed, he returned to his country to build up a new life with a Tunisian woman.
On arrival, Pitstra was received in a modest upstairs apartment in Ben Arous, a suburb of Tunis, by Mohsen, his wife Leila and his half sister Rahma. “I was then introduced to the many other family members and in-laws. I was immediately overcome by their hospitality and their sense of togetherness, and I was immediately curious about their way of life and their manners that were new to me.” It was, however, also quite confusing to get to know his second identity. Not only for himself, but also regarding the culture that was new to him. “I became confused. About poverty behind the façade of the abundance of food and drink. About close-knit family ties that make privacy impossible, and at the same time form the basis for the flexibility and independence of the community. The pride they took in showing me Tunisian culture, even though just one wrong word about the existing regime could have you disappear from the face of the earth.”
When the revolution breaks out in January 2011, his plan to make a film about his family history unfolds more rapidly. Pitstra doesn’t waste any time, and comes up with a rough outline for Die Welt in one evening in January, together with filmmaker friend Thijs Gloger. “The script is partly based on my own and my family’s experiences, but also on reports about the increase of the number of young men who make their way to the Italian island Lampedusa in small boats. I was curious to know why they were leaving at that time, now that the country was liberated.”
According to co-scenarist and director Abdallah Rezgui, it was about time that a film was realised about Tunisians fleeing the country. “Die Welt deals with a theme that concerns a lot of young people. Many things are still disorganised since the revolution broke out. Tunisians are exercising damage control for the most needy: a section of the population that was ignored by the regime for many years, and that is now affected very severely. That so many young people want to flee the country is not a main concern for most politicians.”
Abdelhamid Naouara was selected as leading actor at a casting session in Tunisia. “We weren’t just looking for anybody. We wanted an actor who could bring across Abdallah’s passion and repressed anger, convincingly. Abdelhamid made himself familiar with the character of the central figure without effort, and he possessed a wide range in his acting skills. He was composed and he presented the role accordingly”, says Pitstra. “Besides that, there was something mysterious about him; something profound that I didn’t see with any of the other actors.” Ilse Heus was casted in the Netherlands to play the role of Anna, and Judith van der Meulen plays her friend. A mixture of family members and Tunisian actors plays all other supporting roles. Die Welt was shot within 24 very hot days in Tunisia, in July 2011, and the crew returned in October to film another six days. It took four days to shoot the remaining scenes in the Netherlands, and the very last scene was captured in October 2012. It took the crew 35 days in total to shoot all the material for the film, and this took place on more than forty different locations. In Tunisia these locations were in Tunis, Ben Arous, La Marsa, El Mourouj, Sousse, Hergla and Korbous. The scenes in the Netherlands were shot in Zaandam, Groningen and Makkum. The editing and postproduction of the film took about one year.

Director’s statements
Alex Pitstra – Director, producer
“To me Die Welt is an exploration of both myself and of the person I could have been if my father had made different choices in life. Abdallah’s character is partly based on me. He views his country from a distant perspective, just like I see the country from a Western point of view. I made notes of my observations during my travels, and integrated them in the film.
I think that in Die Welt we see Tunisia through Western eyes. We see a country that is a lot more modern than what we see on the news on TV. On the other hand the film presents Tunisian society in a way that Tunisians are not yet familiar with.
I myself am a child of Fort Europe. I discover my Tunisian identity in Die Welt.
Karim and Alex travel in opposite directions. We meet each other half way, in search of a new identity.”


Cast and crew
in order of appearance
Abdallah  Abdelhamid Naouara
Customer DVD shop  Mohammed Hassine Belkhala
Jamil  Jamil Ferchichi
Fruit salesman  Brahim Ben Ammar
Bus conductor / Immigration officer  Ons Bahri
Hassan Mohsen Ben Hassen
Samir Kamel Ben Khalfa
Ahlem Rahma Ben Hassen
Grandmother Afifa Afifa Rezgui
‘MTV Cribs’ star on TV Davy King
Friend of Abdallah telling story Houssem Al Bib
Friends of Abdallah Slim Al Amiri, Abderrahmen Rezgui
José Judith van der Meulen
Anna Ilse Heus
Young man at hotel Mohamed Nkhili
Swedish woman Margaretha Nilsson
Mohamed Imed Sassi
Fouad Fouad Cheneti
Mehdi Mehdi Cheneti
Delilah Delilah Ben Hassen
Semira Samira Saïdi
Fatouma Nabila Ben Hassen
Woman in kitchen Hana el Wafi
Bride Mariem Bedoui
Owner of other DVD shop Mounir Saadoui
Customer café Abdelmajid Houidi
Masseur hammam Fethi Fourti
Barber Ahmed Gaidi
Customers barber shop Abdelmajid Bibasse,
Nacer Edinne Hafsi, Fakhreddine Essraoulia

Car buyer Mustapha Khemiha
Negotiating man on car market Walid Korbi
Complaining man on car market Mohamed Chaouachi
Djo Youssef Hammami
Djo’s partner Walid Ouerghi
Lassad Lassad Mestiri
Marwa Marwa Agrebi
Refugees Aymen Sliti, Taher Khemiri, Med Chams Eddine Kotrane,
Jamil Ferchichi,
Bilel Chouchene
Refugee – singer on boat Mehdi Ben Amor
Mourad the skipper Sami Jouini

Extras
Mohamed Ali Agerbi – Chams Dine Ben Ahmed – Hamdi Ben Ahmed – Wasila Akeri Terd – Rafika Bedoui – Slahdine Belhedi – Amani Brimi – Monia Akkari Brimi – Mohamed Malek Elaoud – Mourad Farhat – Wahbi ben Fetima – Khira Elcheyeb el Gessmi – Salwa Grafa –Aymen Haouet – Bouraoui Ben Hassen – Hamza Ben Hassen – Leila Ben Hassen – Mohamed Aziz Ben Hassen – Khalil Hedi Ben Lakhedher – Abdelhamid Marzouki –Meriem Taggez – Eskander Midassi – Monia Nilsson – Nessrine Ragoubi – Akram Ben Said – Dalila Saïdi – Imen Shgaier – Aya Terd

Crew
Produced and directed by Alex Pitstra
Co-Producer Rene Houwen
Executive Producer Moez Kamoun
Line Producer Rosan Breman
Associate Producers David Inden, Remy Anedda

Screenplay
Alex Pitstra
Thijs Gloger
Abdallah Rezgui

Production services in Tunisia provided by Sindbad Production

Sindbad Production representative Philippa Day
1st Assistant Director Youssef Hammami
2nd Assistant Director Sabrine Ben Hamida
Unit Manager Anis Absi
2nd Unit Manager Hamdi Ben Ahmed
2nd Unit Runner Zeineb Khalfaoui
Production Coordinator Ahlem Zarrouk
Production Assistants
Abderrahmen Rezgui
Rahma Ben Hassen
Production Assistant – The Netherlands Roeland Dijksterhuis
Production Accountant Latifa Miled
Office driver Eskander Midassi

Cinematography Thijs Gloger
First Assistant Camera Tadeusz Kieniewicz
2nd Unit Assistant Camera Joost Wierenga
Gaffer – Tunisia Mondher Dhied
Best boy Walid Bachouchi
Genny Operator Mohamed Boulaabi
Electricians
Souhail Haboubi
Lamjed Laabidi
Gaffer – The Netherlands Peter J. Reese
Set photographers
Judith van der Meulen
Peter J. Reese
Tadeusz Kieniewicz
Camera Equipment Het Raam
Edwin Verstegen
Jorne Tielemans
Dick Harrewijn
Crew driver Abdelhamid Marzouki
Truck driver Mourad Jeridi

Key grip Tarek Bekri
Additional grip Amine El Amri

Sound Engineer Walid Ouerghi
Boom Operator Slim Jbeli

Props and set decoration Mourad Negri

Editing
Alex Pitstra
Thijs Gloger
René Duursma
Editing consultant Janine Prins
Compositing – VFX Giso Spijkerman
Additional compositing
Sil Bulterman
Roelof Bos
Image Post Production Loods Lux & Lumen
Ruud de Bruyn
Mike Vosmaer
Les Lahumeten
Ilke Vernooy
Color Grading Jef Grosfeld

Sound design and music Renger Koning
Trumpet Hans Boschma
Mixed at Soundbase
Music clearances Copyright Power International
Edith Severs
Esther de Vries

Casting Director – Tunis Youssef Hammami
Casting  Anna Kemna Casting
Betty Post
Houdijn Beekhuis
Casting – ‘MTV Cribs’ star Dutch Casting Agency
Martine Blauw

Dialogue Supervisor Abdallah Rezgui
Additional Dialogues Abdelhamid Nawara
Arabic Translations Sonia Guizani
Pepita Mol
Subtitling Einion Vertaling & Ondertiteling

Publicity Carla Wolbers
Copywriter Tom Tieman
English Translations
Carol van Gelder
Rik Smit
Frank Boxman
French Translations
Anneke Claus
Cilou Bertin
Artwork Sgaar ontwerp,
Saar de Vries
Gerjo van Dam

Legal advisor Alexander Jähring

Technical details
Title: Die Welt
With: Abdelhamid Naouara, Ilse Heus and Mohsen Ben Hassen
Length: 80 minutes
Language: Arabic, Dutch and English
Subtitles available: Dutch, English, French and Arabic.
Aspect ratio: 1:1.85Audio: 5.1 Surround (DCP) Stereo LTRT (HD-CAM)

Equipment
Most of the scenes in Die Welt were shot with a Sony F3-camera that was connected to a KiPro mini-recorder that records to ProRes422 HQ 1080p HD. A number of other scenes were shot with a Canon 5DmkII.