EXCLUSIVE: Tunisia unveils bucolic coming-of-age story of Erige Sehiri Under the fig trees about a group of teenagers who work as fig pickers in the summer as a nomination for an Oscar for Best International Film.
News of the selection came ahead of the film’s North American premiere at Contemporary World Cinema in Toronto on Friday.
The work originally had its world premiere in May at the Filmmakers’ Fortnight in Cannes and has since been screened at numerous festivals including Karlovy Vary, Melbourne and Sarajevo.
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The film marks Sehiri’s feature film debut after a string of award-winning medium-to-long-length documentaries, including a 2018 work. railwaymen, about train drivers who risk their lives to keep Tunisia’s crumbling rail network afloat.
Sehiri, who accompanied Under the fig trees at TIFF, grew up in France and returned to her parents’ native Tunisia after a popular uprising in 2011.
Initially working as a journalist covering the aftermath of the revolution, she built a career there as a producer and director, working under the auspices of her La Marsa-based company, Henia Production.
She is hot Under the fig trees guerrilla style in the summer of 2020 against the backdrop of her father’s home village of Kesra, a Berber village in northwestern Tunisia famous for its figs.
Inspired by the light-hearted dialogue of the 18th-century French novelist Pierre de Marivaux, the film captures contemporary Tunisian society and relationships between men and women through the chatter of girls while working or relaxing.
The film is being produced by Sehiri under his Henia Production banner along with Didar Domekhri of Maneki Films who also co-produced the second TIFF title. Godland.
Palmyre Badinier, Nicolas Vadimoff and Philip Quaito of Akka Films) Roshi Behesht Nejad of In Good Company co-produced.
Tunisia made it to the nomination stage in the 2019/20 Oscars race with Kauter Ben Hania. The man who stole his skin.