From the center of Gabes, a 365-degree view of the city offers a stunning panorama of the world’s only seaside oasis, an urban setting scattered with green-grey palm trees, a blue-grey sea, and, jutting up from the main port, the Tunisian Chemical Group’s sky-high factory topped by thick plumes of smoke. It is a grey December morning on the weekend of Gabes’ short-film festival, “Life is short.” Even in the midst of a three-day cultural event animated by film directors, artists, university students, and cinephiles, the unsettling omnipresence of the factory close by inspires the festival’s title with sharp irony.