"Afef spent much of her youth as a professional on stage between dance and theater. From stage to stage, from one country to another, she was lucky enough to have several families. Traveling together, eating, sleeping, crying, laughing... Unforgettable moments of life that marked her forever. As she was writing the script and discussing it with me, we realized that we were driven by the same ideas of directing, a very complementary cinematic vision, and a common interest in the different subjects dealt with in Backstage. Our desire to co-direct the film was thus born. In Backstage, we wanted to recreate this singular dance troupe life and above all, through a very particular aspect of the world of the stage where the settling of scores under no circumstances can be seen by either the spectator nor the director. But the show must always go on and, mainly offstage, is where the real drama plays out, which is why we decided to put there our camera to delve into the life of a dance troupe." [Afef Ben Mahmoud, Khalil Benkirane]
Afef Ben Mahmoud dashed from an early age into a rich artistic career, initially as a dancer then as actress through numerous TV series, theater plays and films. She has held lead roles under major Tunisian directors, including Nouri Bouzid’s Making Of (2006) and recently in Streams (2021) by Mehdi Hmili, receiving the Best Actress award at the Cairo IFF. Alongside, she created Mésanges Films and produced Bouzid's latest film, The Scarecrows (2019), in which she also plays a lead role. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
After cinema studies, Khalil Benkirane run the San Francisco Arab Film Festival and then returned to Morocco to direct his feature documentary The White Thread. He then joined the Doha Film Institute to oversee the Grant Programme and recently he co-produced Nouri Bouzid's, The Scarecrows.