Kaouther Ben Hania, historic Oscar nomination for Tunisia

Director invites support for Tunisian cinema

16 March, 13:28

    TUNIS - Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania, speaking from Paris after finding out that her film "The Man Who Sold His Skin" was nominated for an Oscar for best foreign film, said, "This is a historic event, a first for Tunisia".

    Her film premiered in the Horizons section at the 77th Venice Film Festival, where it received the award for best actor (Yahya Mahayni) and the Edipo Re Inclusion Award.

    The director invited Tunisian authorities to further support national film production.

    The film, starring Italian actress Monica Bellucci, Tunisian actor Yahya Mahayni and Belgian actor Koen De Bouw, conjures the Faustian bargain between a Syrian refugee and a contemporary artist in order to cross the border into Europe.

    "I hope that after this event, decisions will be made to push Tunisian cinema forward to better support directors and give more importance to cinema, because currently all of our efforts are individual," said the 43-year-old French-Tunisian director who was born in Sidi Bouzid, a marginalised city in central Tunisia.

    She had already gained attention for her 2017 feature film "La Belle et la Meute", which told the story of a Tunisian rape victim's battle for respect for her rights and dignity.

    The film's co-producer Habib Attia said the nomination is "a success for Tunisian cinema, which is evolving and establishing itself on an international level".

    The nomination comes just days after the French César Award given to French-Tunisian actor Sami Bouajila for his role in the Tunisian film "Un fils".

    The wind of freedom that came in 2011 with the spirit of the revolution seems to have given new life to Tunisian cinema.

    Since then, a young generation of Tunisian directors and producers has managed to courageously bring to the screen stories of social unrest, political issues and intimate conflicts, topics that had been long banned by the dominant socio-political system and that now have instead decreed their success.

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