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  • Tunisia Factory:Mentalities in Question
  • Olivier Barlet (bio)
    Translated by Ambre Llorca

The Factory, initiated by the Directors' Fortnight, aims at the emergence of new talents on the international scene, thus allowing young international filmmakers to meet and create together. This year, Tunisia was in the spotlight. On May 9, 2018, the day of the world premiere at Cannes, the four short films came out in Tunisia in nine movie theaters. Four fifteen-minute short films, each written and directed by two people, a couple of young filmmakers, one of them Tunisian and the other from an other country.

That is what the Factory does, suggesting a different country where to film each year. In 2016–2017, four international filmmakers were chosen and, in 2017, they called for contributions in Tunisia after an announcement at the Cannes Film Festival. In September 2017, in Tunis, four out of twelve filmmakers were selected and paired with their international counterparts. From October 2017 to January 2018, the pairs spent three months writing their short-film scenario and in March 2018, for five weeks, each pair filmed, edited, and finished their short film with a Tunisian crew and cast.

Their coming to Cannes is the chance to meet representatives of the international film industry (producers, distributors, representatives from festivals, international sales agents, and so forth) to develop their future film projects.

This 2018 Factory is co-produced by a "joint group of production companies": Dora Bouchoucha, Lina Chaabane, Habib Attia, Imed Marzouk, Omar Ben Ali, Riadh and Selma Thabet as well as Khaled Mechken (Nomadis Images, Cinétéléfilms, Propaganda Productions, SVP, Ulysson, Objectif) and Dominique Welinski (DW, France).

Omerta, Mariam Al Ferjani (Tunisia) and Fateme Ahmadi (Iran)

Harrowing, strained, intense, Omerta conveys the anxiety and powerlessness of young Tunisians faced with norms that control them as well as [End Page 240] the desperate desire to leave their country by all means. Beautifully filmed by a camera close to the bodies, capturing the body language at every instant as well as facial expressions, cleverly edited to support the tension between the characters as much as the situation, this little gem of a film questions the law of silence spread by the fear of a suppression that is far too real. The musical arrangement of the beginning, made more powerful by its delay with the picture, establishes a unity between the four characters that will explode through the drama. Left alone, the woman knows how to move past the lucidity to take the risk needed in the face of men's cowardice.

Leyla's Blues, Ismaël (Tunisia) and Fateme Ahmadi (Iran)

Ismaël and Fateme Ahmadi explore what's left unsaid: the autism of a young person, the silence of a woman regarding what's important, the blindness of a man. Between the truncated image of the young's tablet, a limited but realistic vision whose intelligence is reminded by his/its skills for/in chess and the impossible uprising of the woman; it's a mute society that is depicted and there is no use answering the questions because they are so quirky.

To suggest this destiny an outline was needed to let the audience connect their personal history to it. In the great deprivation of beings, no solution could come up. Only the loneliness remains. Of great expertise and able to set up a tension, Leyla's Blues describes with intense sharpness the weakness of the surrounding air.

L'oiseau bleu, Rafik Omrani (Tunisia) and Suba Sivakumaran (Sri Lanka)

A never-ending fairy tale, replaced by the threat of the power of money but that regains its vitality in the ongoing support: in the Blue bird restaurant, by the sea, an uncertain future is at play. A number of characters party or fight. The camera cycles around between all of them, to the rhythm of the dances, setting up ambiances, connecting people. The butler tries to maintain the quality of the place while the director staggers under destiny's stop but good news give a sense of hope.

Best Day ever, Anissa Daoud (Tunisia) and Aboozar Amini (Afghanistan)

In a Rashomon approach, we see the successive points of view of four...


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