VENICE – Tunisian director Leyla Bouzid’s drama “As I Open My Eyes,” set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring as it relates to local rock music, has won the Europa Cinemas Label prize as best European film in the Venice fest’s independently run Venice Days section.
“Eyes,” which is a French/Tunisian/Belgian co-production, will now benefit from promotional push and better exhibition circulation thanks to an European Union financial incentive for the Europa Cinemas network of cinemas to include it in their programming schedule. The prize is given by a jury of four European exhibitors.
Pic is set in Tunis, summer 2010, a few months before the Revolution. Protag Farah, who is 18, has just graduated from med school and her family sees her as a future doctor. But she doesn’t see it that way. She sings in a political rock band, has a passion for life, gets drunk, discovers love and the city by night against the wishes of her mother Hayet.
“Leyla Bouzid has made a fresh and insightful feature debut set in her native Tunisia,” said the jury in a statement. “It is refreshing to see the Arab middle class portrayed in a film that concentrates on the relationship between a daughter – a rebellious young singer in a political rock band – and her mother in the period immediately before the Arab spring. The excellent character development avoids stereotypes, and the director’s visual approach is strong. At a time when we in Europe are so aware of the refugee crisis, this film brings a sense of optimism and potential for progress for this area of the world.”
“Eyes” is sold internationally by Doc & Film International. Nathalie Mesuret and Bertrand Gore are the producers. The film is a co-production between Blue Monday Productions, Propaganda Production, and Helicotronc.