Cannes 2022 – Ariz Sehiri, director of “Sus Les Figs”: “Actors are being given a place to express themselves”

Release Date: 05/21/2022 – 09:30

Chosen by directors Fortnite, the film is one of three Tunisians in Cannes this year to feature in one day.

Can you tell us a little bit about your career as a director?
It is natural to start by making a documentary. I could film myself what interests me among others. It has made my movie aspirations more accessible. And that was my school. Being a Franco-Tunisian, I felt the need and necessity to make films in Tunisia after the 2011 revolution, especially documentaries. First, we have not been able to express ourselves freely before, and because it has become essential to heal wounds, look at our own faces, know our history, and give young people a chance to rewrite.

How would you describe a sauceless fig in a few words?
An open-air camera where on harvest day, stories and relationships are intertwined.

How did you come up with the idea for this movie?
I was preparing a casting for another movie and I fell in love with Fide, a high school girl. I know he spends all his summer working in the fields. I was already interested in these workers, also called truck women, who were transported behind the back of pick-ups like cows. Inspired by them, I suddenly decided to change the film and take a special interest in seasonal workers for whom working in the fields or gardens is a chore and the freedom to be together or a place to meet boys.

You are talking about a closed session. So unique outdoor decor?
Yeah Al that sounds pretty crap to me, Looks like BT aint for me either. The enclosed space under the tree brings with it the intensity of emotion and gestures. We were limited in space because it reduced the chances of staging, but we had a great sense of freedom. We filmed with a single camera, without equipment, in a kind of great collective choreography, where the actors and actresses met real workers in the middle of a fig crop.

Were there any decisive steps in production?
I knew Badinier in Palmyra who had been with me in my previous documentaries, and I met Didar Domehri two years ago at a support program for female directors. When I spoke to them Under the figs, They immediately accepted the need to write and direct me with a lot of spontaneity and to make a film out of desire. They still get involved very quickly without asking for funds, as was not possible before.

Did you have a very written text, or conversely you left room for a certain improvisation?
I decided from the beginning to work with non-actors and film rehearsals with their costumes to capture moments of sincerity. I didn’t give them a written conversation but they knew the direction of their character and their relationship with each other as well as the purpose and structure of the scene. They improvised and I wrote again. These were their words, the way they spoke. They have the intellect to play.

Are you looking for a decor, a specific atmosphere?
I was shooting around the village of Kesra in northwestern Tunisia, my father’s original village. As a kid, I used to pick figs to end my summer vacation. For the picture, I was looking for a vast garden with tall trees. We even throw trees! They had to envelop us while letting through the light.

When did you shoot
We shot while cutting figs in 2020, then in 2021. We were limited to the fig season and depended on the weather! The movie is more than a day long. We had to deal with what the environment gave us. The funniest and most touching thing was the intercourse between the film crew and the farm workers who were there for the actual harvest. Sometimes they forget that we are making a movie and some scenes react as if it is life.

Have you created a specific work method?
I have of course created a method that will evolve further, but the most important thing for me is to give actors a place for expression and especially to capture those who listen and those who speak.

When did the work of the film end?
The day before the Cannes Film Festival.

What do you expect from this selection of Directors Fortnight?
First, a Moved Public, the premiere of the film that took it so far I hope … and there are more ways for me to prepare for the next film!

Collected by Patrice Carey

Photo Credit: Alice Ortio Campion

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