(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Tunisian helmer Leyla Bouzid premiered her debut feature As I Open My Eyes at the Venice Film Festival, where it picked up the first of many subsequent awards on its travels through Toronto, Stockholm, Carthage and now Dubai, screening in the Muhr Features section. Eyes tells the story of a young Tunisian woman's struggles against her family's wishes to pursue a singing career just before the country's Jasmine Revolution in 2010.
Did you feel pressure from Western funds to adapt your script to their tastes?
I didn't feel pressure, but I felt they have ready-made ideas and cliches, and you have to fight against this. If you don't do the thing they expect, you have to really explain it more, but it's possible.
Do you think that opportunities for young women have opened up since former president Ben Ali was brought down?
In Tunisia the problem is more about youth than men and women, because compared to other countries in the region, Tunisia is very open for women, even before the Revolution, and there have always been many strong women in Tunisian cinema. There was a period where there was a small threat to women's freedom but this is OK now; for me what's at stake is trusting the young generation.
Do you think there is a divide in cinema between older, well-established directors, and a younger generation who has something different to say?
The older generation has their place, and this is good. The problem is that in Tunisia often first features are done by 45, 48, 50-year-olds rather than 28 or 30. When I finished school, I decided it's important to do a young film, with the energy of what's happening now. Maybe in 20 years I'll make very calm films about families, I don't know (laughs). Maybe it's my only energetic film, but I think we need this. It's not against the older generation - I'm the daughter of one of the most famous Tunisian directors, so I don't want to kill my father (laughs)! But we need this wave of young directors with their own way of looking at things. We miss films about teenagers, Arabic teenagers.
Eyes is screening at Mall of the Emirates on Tuesday, December 15 at 6.30pm.
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