Tunisian cinema has rebounded after 7 years. The industry which produced only two to three films annually in the 2000s, now prides itself with about a dozen feature films made each year.
A young generation of filmmakers and producers are taking advantage of newfound freedoms to tackle social upheavals, political issues and conflicts, among other subjects previously banished from the silver screen for decades.
Locals say they prefer their recent homemade films to foreign blockbusters.
Most of the laws that now govern Tunisian cinema are really obsolete in relation to reality, in relation to the market.
Tunisian director, Mehdi Barsaoui, believes “the rebirth is due to the proximity that authors now have with their works, which means that they are no longer forced to bypass things. We are no longer obliged to be unspoken or use metaphors. We are in a direct discourse that sometimes may or may not please. But we are in a certain form of authenticity.”
Tunisian filmmakers have been acclaimed internationally, particularly in Cannes and Berlin. The sector is still overwhelmed with challenges including the shortage of cinemas and the lack of an electronic ticketing system and an obscure relationship between producers and distributors.
Habib Attia, is a film producer. He expects the laws guiding the industry will be “modernized” to match the expansion.
“I hope that we will soon be able to modernize the laws or at least update them so that this growth in production is also followed by appropriate laws. Because most of the laws that now govern Tunisian cinema are really obsolete in relation to reality, in relation to the market.”
From a handful of cinemas in 2012, Tunisia now counts about fifteen theatres, and as many places of distribution for associations.
Since 2012, attendance at film screenings has upped from 10 to 15% each year, and the international cinema chain, Pathe Gaumont plans to open an eight-screen multiplex in Tunis.