EXCLUSIVE: Tunisia has presented Erige Sehiri’s bucolic coming-of-age tale under the fig trees, about a group of teenagers who work as fig pickers during the summer, as their entry for the Oscar for Best International Feature Film.
News of the selection came ahead of the film’s North American premiere on Friday at Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema program.
The play had its world premiere at the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight in May and has since been shown at numerous festivals, including Karlovy Vary, Melbourne and Sarajevo.
Paris-based sales company Luxbox has unveiled a series of new deals to coincide with the announcement of the Oscars.
New sales include Benelux (Liberation), Portugal (Nitrate), Spain (Atalante), Turkey (Bir Film) and Eastern Europe (HBO), adding to previously announced deals in France (Jour2Fête) and the Middle East (Mad Solutions).
The film marks Sehiri’s fictional feature debut after a series of award-winning medium and feature documentaries, including 2018 work. railway men, about train drivers risking their lives to keep Tunisia’s crumbling rail network afloat.
Sehiri, who has accompanied under the fig trees to TIFF, he grew up in France and returned to Tunisia, his parents’ native country, after the popular uprising of 2011.
Working first as a journalist covering the aftermath of the revolution, she then built a career there as a producer and filmmaker, working under the banner of her La Marsa-based company Henia Production.
It’s good under the fig trees guerrilla style during the summer of 2020 in the context of his father’s hometown of Kesra, a Berber village in northwestern Tunisia, famous for its figs.
Drawing inspiration from the playful dialogue of the 18th-century French novelist Pierre de Marivaux, the film captures contemporary Tunisian society and the relationships between men and women through the chatter of the girls, while they work or take a break.
The film is produced by Sehiri, under the Henia Production banner, with Didar Domehri at Maneki Films, who is also co-producing a second TIFF title, God’s land.
Palmyre Badinier, Nicolas Wadimoff and Philippe Coeytaux of Akka films and Roshi Behesht Nedjad of In Good Company are credited as co-producers.
Tunisia reached the nomination stage in the 2019-20 Oscars race with Kaouther Ben Hania The man who stole her skin.
Here are the International Oscar tickets so far: