Middle East & Africa

Michelle and Noel Keserwany
Les Chenilles

Les Chenilles by Michelle and Noël Keserwany is a sensual film that translates the source of women’s oppression into the means for their liberation. In this narrative film, protagonists Asma and Sarah meet while working as waitresses in France. They both come from the Levant and, each in their own way, carry burdens of the past and the consequences of colonialism. They tentatively befriend each other and find a common ground that traces back to when the city of Lyon was connected to their homeland via the Silk Road. Les Chenilles is a tender film about past and present exploitation and about female solidarity, friendship, and solace.

Weaving through a poetic metaphor about silkworms that metamorphose into spiders, and how through this transformation the product of their labor shifts from commodity to survival assurance. Inspired by this imagery and by the conditions of women’s work in silk factories in the 19th century between the city of Lyon and the Levant, the film tracks a story of displacement, labor conditions, the ripple effect of historical events, fragilities and traumas, but ultimately a sense of resistance.

Co-produced by KADIST and the Lyon Biennial, Les Chenilles premiered at the 16th Lyon Biennale: manifesto of fragility (2022).

Michelle and Noël Keserwany compose and perform their own songs, as well as contribute to the illustrations and animations featured in the videos they produced. While studying, the sisters began producing viral videos addressing the daily socio-political struggles they experienced in Lebanon. Their use of humour and satire to make the videos accessible made them widely known in the region for their political art. After the accidental success of their first single Jagal el USEK, the sisters released many subsequent satirical critiques. Michelle Keserwany is a performer, screenwriter, and director. At age 21, Michelle’s first satirical song accidentally went viral and was viewed more than a million times on YouTube. Since then, she has partnered with her sister Noël to create more satirical songs that criticize socio-political dysfunction in Lebanon.  Noël Keserwany is a multidisciplinary artist, growing up in Lebanon amidst socio-political unrest, she developed a vocal critique of the situation using storytelling methods. Using her skills in writing, illustration, animation, and directing, Noël produces research-based awareness and advocacy films, bringing together teams of talented artists and professionals in the field.