First real-life drama about military heroes to be shown by Tunisian TV

The series, to be shown during Ramadan, is titled “27″ in reference to the Eagle 27 Division of the Tunisian Army.
Sunday 22/03/2020
A scene from the Tunisian series "27". (Al Arab)
Intriguing. A scene from the Tunisian series "27". (Al Arab)

TUNIS--“27” is the intriguing title of a series that will premier during Ramadan on Tunisian national television. The series depicts actual dramatic and heroic events from the Tunisian Army’s war on terrorism and cross-border smuggling.

Series director and scriptwriter Yousri Bouassida told The Arab Weekly that the work mixes action and social drama. It recreates episodes from the lives and actions of men and women in an elite corps in Tunisia’s armed forces dedicated to combating terrorism and corruption.

The series is titled “27” in reference to the Eagle 27 Division of the Tunisian Army. This elite division has been in the thick of Tunisia’s war on terrorism and smuggling the past few years. The series comprises 20 episodes, was produced by the Tunisian National Television and is to be broadcast during the holy month of Ramadan.

The series relies on drama, suspense and action to depict dramatic moments from the personal lives of members of the elite corps and mix them with action scenes from their operations against terrorists and smugglers.

Bouassida said “27” is the first dramatic work in Tunisia to deal with the topic. He said that, in addition to showcasing the troops’ risky actions against terrorists and smugglers, the series would  focus on their daily and intimate lives, their love stories and how difficult it is to connect with people whose lives are constantly in danger.

Bouassida did not forget to shed light on the difficult social and material conditions of some soldiers and on how they reconcile demands of their risky job with the demands of family lives.

The stellar cast includes some of the most prominent television and cinema stars in Tunisia, including Hichem Rostom, Raouf Ben Amor, Jamila Chihi, Dorsaf Mamlouk, Kawthar Belhaj, Mohamed Ali Nahdi, Asma Ben Othman and Abir Bennani. In addition to veteran actors, the drama is showcasing new and youthful talents, such as Tarek Manai, Rami Dhaoui, Ibaa Hamli and Yosra Messaoudi.

On the choice of the series title, Bouassida said the number 27 is one of his favourites and it “has special significance in Arab and Islamic heritage for its association with the night of the 27th of the month of Ramadan.”

The series production team pointed out that “27” involved about 100 roles and 150 extras who were all carefully selected, with the participation of well-known artistic figures in Tunisia.

“27” is also full of action scenes and adventures. It strongly draws attention to issues related to the personal lives of soldiers who sacrificed their lives for their country, especially in recent years that witnessed an escalation in terrorist operations and the targeting of the military and security forces in Tunisia.

The scenario revolves around the lives and relations of Ziad, field commander of Division 27, Abdelhamid, the colonel in charge of the operations room, and Abdelhamid’s son, Sakr, who is Ziad’s close friend.

Sakr also belongs to the special forces but refused to join Division 27 because “he considers that the country does not deserve that he carries about his ‘coffin’ every day.”

Sakr discovers that patriotism springs from love for one’s homeland and has nothing to do with the rulers of the land. Bouassida said that is the essential message of the series.

Bouassida said the series has an important message for the youth of the country in that there are excellent role models who can be emulated other than the “bad role models” of criminals showcased in television series in recent years.

He said the aim of “27” was to “give another picture and model of the special forces known for their discipline and high moral values” and that that model is primarily directed at the youth who have been marginalised. It also tells politicians that, “if people love the country as the army does and if they are loyal to it as the army is, we would be in different conditions now.”

The Tunisia Army is held in great esteem by the public and is seen as the main bulwark preventing the country from slipping into chaos. The army played a major role in achieving a peaceful transition of power following the departure of former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

Bouassida said he is proud the series is the first dramatic work that celebrates the heroism of the Tunisian Army, noting that no one in Tunisia questions its capabilities or loyalty.

He is professor of audiovisual writing and director and screenwriter of the first season of last year’s successful series “Chouerreb.” He also produced the first all-Tunisian cartoon “Fikri and Kaslan” in 2006, in addition to many documentary works.