A Summer in La Goulette (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

October 2, 2011 by  

A film that showcases sexual freedom, multicultural differences but also a time of pace set before the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967, “A Summer in La Goulette” is an entertaining, sensual film from director Ferid Boughedir.

Images courtesy of © 1996 Marsa Films – Cinares PRoduction – Lamy Films – RTBF – La Sept Cinema. All rights reserved.

DVD TITLE: A Summer in La Goulette (Un été à La Goulette)


DURATION: 89 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Tunisia/French/Belgium, Anamorphic (1:66:1), Arabic and French with English Subtitles

COMPANY: Kino International/Kino Lorber



Directed by Ferid Boughedir

Written by Ferid Boughedir, Nouri Bouzid

Executive Producer: Hassinie Souti

Associate Producer: Georges Goldenstern, Benoit Lamy, Jacqueline Pierreux

Music by Jean-Marie Senia

Cinematography by Robert Alazraki

Edited by Andree Davanture, Catherine Poitevin, Isabelle Devinck

Casting by Hanane Ben Mahmoud

Production Design by Claude Bennys

Costume Design by Naama Mejri


Sonia Mankai as Meriem

Ava Cohen-Jonathan as Tina

Sarah Pariente as Gigi

Mustapha Adouani as Youssef

Guy Nataf as Jojo

Ivo Salerno as Giuseppe

Gamil Ratib as Hadj Beji

A Summer in La Goulette is “an enchanting, insanely erotic comedy” (Eye Weekly) shot on the sun-dappled seaside of Tunisia by director Férid Boughedir (Halfouine).

Three teenage girlfriends live in an apartment complex near Goulette beach in 1967, and during the summer they make a pact to lose their virginity. Meriem (Sonia Mankaï) attracts the eye of her family’s aging landlord, while a persistent group of nervous teen boys flirt their way into the girls’ arms. When news of their increasingly bold behavior reaches their respective families (one is Jewish, another Muslim, and the third Catholic), fingers are pointed in every direction for their socially and religiously embarrassing activities.

A Summer in La Goulette is a coming-of-age tale based on Boughedir’s own childhood memories, a “quietly affecting” (Time Out Film Guide) tale of sexual awakening and multi-cultural misunderstanding. Shot in the warm amber glows of nostalgia, it beautifully captures the end of innocence.

Filmmaker Ferid Boughedh’s 1996 film “A Summer in La Goulette” is a film that no doubt captured the attention of viewers, especially those who lived during the era before Arab-Israeli War.

A time when Tunisia was a location where Arabs, Jews and Catholics were all living in peace, no war.  Sure, each have their religious differences but Boughedh’s film shows us that once upon a time, everyone lived in peace.  He remembers dear to his heart, summertime in La Goulette before the war in 1967.

“A Summer in La Goulette” was nominated for a Golden Berlin Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and now arrives on DVD in the U.S. courtesy of Kino International.

“A Summer in La Goulette” is a film that focuses on three families that live in an apartment complex.  Three families with three teenage daughters: Meriem (played by Sonia Mankai), a Muslim, and her friends Tina (played by Ava Cohen-Jonathan), Jewish and Gigi (played by Sarah Pariente), Catholic, who are now becoming more interested in sex and also wanting to lose their virginity.  But also, there are a group of teenage guys who are just as interested in losing their virginity as well.

Meanwhile, for the young ladies, their fathers Youssef (played by Mustapha Adouani), Jojo (played by Guy Nataf) and Giuseppe (played by Ivo Salerno) are friends and most often at times, like to rib each other on their religions and sometimes their debates can get heated, but yet they still enjoy the fact that there is no war and there is peace.

But one thing that is a common problem at the apartment complex is that some are having problems paying their rent.  And for Hadj Beji (played by Gamil Ratib), he has not been too kind to the tenants.  But one day as the older Hadj visits Youseff’s family and goes to the bathroom, he hears the shower running and sees Meriem showering.  Immediately, Hadj becomes smitten with her.

During a party, Meriem starts to notice that Hadj is constantly staring at her.  While at the party, her friends hook up with the their male friends and they all go to a backroom for a makeout session in hopes to lose their virginity.  But they are caught by their parents.

Immediately, each father starts to point the finger on each of their daughter’s friends, blaming their religious upbringing for corrupting their own daughter and now the father’s stop talking to each other and their daughters get into big trouble.

Meriem still feeling highly sexual knows that the landlord Hadj has been eyeing her and she tries to use her sexuality to tease him, meanwhile the other girls are not so lucky as one father wants to have his daughter “checked” to see if she is still a virgin.

But no matter how things look for the three young women, they are still determined to lose their virginity.


“The Summer in La Goulette” is presented in Anamorphic (1:66:1) and presented in Arabic and French with English subtitles.

The picture quality is good as a lot of the film is shot outdoors.  Cinematography by Robert Alazraki does showcase the beauty of the scenery and the local area.  I didn’t see any major artifacts or blemishes in the print.  But there is good lighting in the film, also scenes capturing the more sensual moments featuring Merriam.  As for audio, dialogue is clear and subtitles are easy to read.


There are no special features in this DVD release of “A Summer in La Goulette”.

In many ways, a synopsis of “A Summer in La Goulette” probably does not give the film too much credit as it sounds like any banal ’80s teen film of young men and women wanting to lose their virginity.

But for Ferid Boughedir’s “A Summer in La Goulette”, one thing that I have noticed is that its efficacy lies within the fact that it’s not an American film.  Because of the political and religious differences of the characters and the fact that the storyline does take place right before the Arab and Israeli conflict of 1967, the film can be seen as a slice of life and possibly a little non-discrete with its tone towards the war and showing how Arabs, Muslims and Catholics can be friends with each other as it was seen in the film and perhaps a great memory of the life that Boughedir experienced as a young man.

As I looked on the Internet to see what took place in Tunisia in 1967, I’ve learned that in the area, Tunisia once had a significant Jewish population but it was severely cut down to hundreds through the wars that the country had experienced.  The Catholics left first, the Jews followed and although the film was released back in theaters in 1996, seeing the Tunisian revolution take place in 2011, to see the protest of the social and political issues that have taken place in Tunisia, and then watching a film like “A Summer in La Goulette”, is no surprise that people  have warmed up to this film because it does show the country during a time when peace ruled the land, Muslims, Catholics and Jews could be friends, neighbors and more.

As for the DVD, it’s a barebone release, no special features at all.  It would have been great to revisit the filmmaker or some of the talent and reflect on the film.

So, yes… “A Summer in La Goulette” does have those titillating moments, those upbeat teenage sexual urges that many of us in the West have seen so many times in ’80s and ’90s American films but because the film does incorporate deeper issues, it showcases a time of an enjoyable and free-spirited time in the Tunis seaside and possibly a nostalgic film for those who have lived in the region at the time.

A film that showcases sexual freedom, multicultural differences but also a time of pace set before the Arab-Israeli conflict of 1967, “A Summer in La Goulette” is an entertaining, sensual film from director Ferid Boughedir.

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