“Sous les Figues” by Erige Sehiri, Tunisian candidate for the 2023 Oscars

“Sous les Figues” (Under the Fig Trees, title in English) by Erige Sehiri is the candidate film which will represent Tunisia at the 95th Academy Awards, in the International Feature Film category.

The National Center for Cinema and Image (CNCI) announced that the candidate film for the 2023 Oscars was selected on Thursday, September 8, 2022, by a national jury meeting during the day. “The jury considered that Erige Sehiri’s film meets all the eligibility criteria defined by the Academy of Oscars”, indicates the Center in a press release published on its social network, in the evening from Thursday to Friday.

The jury is made up of Khaled el-Azeq (in charge of managing the CNCI), Tarek Ben Chaabane (critic and director of the Tunisian Cinémathèque), Nacer Khemir (director), Brahim Letaif (director), Mariem Joobar (director), Mosleh Kraiem (producer) and Najla Ben Abdallah (actress).

Under the aegis of the CNCI, each year a new jury is appointed to select the film representing Tunisia at the Oscars in the category of the Oscar for best international film. The CNCI will then present Tunisia’s candidacy for the Oscar for best international film.

“Sous les Figues” (1h32) is an international co-production (2022) between Tunisia, Switzerland, France and Qatar, which was presented at the 54th edition of the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, the non-competitive independent section of the Cannes Film Festival (from May 17 to 28, 2022).

This film won the Ecoprod jury prize launched at the 75th Cannes Film Festival with a view to “promoting a film and its team that has implemented the most ambitious eco-production approach possible”. The Ecoprod prize rewards for the first time a feature film presented at Cannes and produced in the most eco-responsible way possible.

Co-scripted by Erige Sehiri and Peggy Hamann, Under the Figs is a fiction feature film. This co-production by Henia Production and Maneki Films was rewarded “for its eco-production approach during the filming of the film”. The Franco-Tunisian, Erige Sehiri, is on her second feature film, after her documentary “La Voie Normale” (2018) and a short film “Facebook de mon père” (2012).

Under the Fig Trees takes place in the middle of fig trees, in the northwest of Tunisia, during the summer harvest. Ecoprod reports on the many initiatives implemented on the set of this film, made with a small team. The actions carried out concern management, decoration, energy, transport and waste.

“Sous les Figuese is selected in the ” Contemporary world Cinema ” section of the 47th edition of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), in Canada, which is held from September 8 to 18, 2022. It is also selected in the parallel section of the 66th edition of the London Film festival (BFT), in the United Kingdom, scheduled for October 5-16.

After its distinction at Cannes, “Sous les Figues” is the only Tunisian film, with “Ashkal” by Youssef Chebbi, selected at Tiff and BFI, which are among the major film festivals organized in Autumn.

The Venice International Film Festival which inaugurates the autumn season is organized in its 79th edition from August 31 to September 9. After having been widely represented (competition and jury) at the Venice Film Festival in recent years, Tunisian cinema is absent this year from the various sections of this prestigious festival.

Several countries have already submitted the film(s) best representing their cinematography and which meet the criteria defined by the Academy of Oscars. According to the procedure in force, the selected film will be submitted to the international executive committee. The latter is responsible for choosing all the films of the candidate countries for the Oscar for best international film.

A foreign film is defined as any feature film in a dominant foreign language, other than English, that is produced outside of the United States of America. The application concerns fiction films but also animation or documentaries.

In 2021, the Academy of Oscars decided to relax the eligibility criteria, due to restrictions due to the Covid19 pandemic. New criteria for the Oscar category for best international film, relating to diversity and inclusion, will be taken into account from the year 2024.

A shortlist of 15 films will be announced on December 21, and Oscar nominations will be known on January 24, 2023.

The 95th Academy Awards will take place in Los Angeles on March 12, 2023.

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“Sous les Figues” by Erige Sehiri, Tunisian candidate for the 2023 Oscars