Les filles d’Olfa

Amine Bouhafa

" The finalised score is a solidly engaging effort by Bouhafa. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the download only release

Les filles d’Olfa (Four Daughters, 2023) is a documentary by Kaouther Ben Hania. It was inspired by the true events in which Olfa, a Tunisian mother of four children, struggles with two of her daughters traveling towards ISIS territory, and apprehended later on. The director took the factual foundation and made it her own, presented as a reflexion documentary, including re-enactments performed by professional actors, real-life individuals and a documentary in a documentary approach. There's much contradiction in this approach, but the rawness and a variety of themes (sisterhood, the place of woman in society...), against the intimate journey and the heartfelt is interesting. I also like the intrinsic notions of truth, essential to the sub-genre, and the 'suspense of disbelief' moments, which are sometimes hilarious. Overall, the documentary is devastating, and evidence that inspiration may come from documentaries of various kinds.

For the 2017 film Aala Kaf Ifrit, Amine Bouhafa and Kaoutheun Ben Hania worked together for the first time. And ever since. The composer was contracted in an early stage, allowing him to read the script and talk to the director. They mostly talked about characters, narration, emotion, the overall intent, while Hania specifically requested 'unique' music. Bouhafa then took everything into consideration and wrote the score, implemented in the process of principal photography. Bouhafa had a lot of ideas, and, for one, went to lengths to create music inspired by the rhythmic sounds of tattoo equipment. The director had met a person with tattoos in a museum, also featured in the documentary. Bouhafa visited a tattoo parlour and recorded mechanical sounds, and used these sounds in the making of a synthesizer loop. It is hard to hear the influence, but I surmise the retro synthesizer loop heard in Four Daughters – Bonus Track 1 (2:49) was the result of that.

The finalised score is a solidly engaging effort by Bouhafa. The music is performed by a palette of violins, cello, piano, synthesizers, woodwinds and percussion, and especially the elegant string writing - harmoniously, hopeful, but also slightly atonal and nervous - strikes a special chord. Bouhafa often compliments emotions deeply felt throughout the documentary, with much elegance, mournfulness, distress, tension, but also buoyant, sometimes reflective, contradicting what is happening, while also strongly aiding the narration with progressive music. Much of the music feels like a warm bath of familiar Bouhaferian ingredients, including lovely use of minimalism, but not the 'unique' music the director originally requested of him.

The highlight, Let’s Sing Together, is so hopeful and melancholic as a stand-alone cue, and in perfect marriage with the sequence. It conveys an ethereal feel, and uses impressionist piano and spine-tingling strings, sending out a sensational message of hope. From a distance, it reminds of the utterly overwhelming Football Without a Ball cue and sequence from the 2014 film Timbuktu, which is a devastating showcase of hope in a world of misery.

Amine Bouhafa's score to Les filles d’Olfa is very memorable. The music released by 22D is available digitally.

1. Four Daughters 3:14
2. This Is My Story 1:54
3. Arresting Him 1:33
4. Let's Sing Together 1:56
5. The Father 1:28
6. She Is Playing Me 1:24
7. The Young Daughters 1:13
8. Ending Title 2:51
9. Four Daughters-Bonus Track 1 2:49
10. Four Daughters-Bonus Track 2 1:59

Ttotal duration: 20:21


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Released by

22D Music (download only release 2023)