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Mariam Al Ferjani

Mariam Al Ferjani Actress, filmmaker (Tunisia) Depuis l’obtention de son diplôme en 2015, Mariam vit et travaille entre Tunis et Milan. Elle est la protagoniste dans La belle et la meute (2017), le premier film de la prometteuse réalisatrice tunisienne Kaouther Ben Hania. Ce film parle d’une jeune femme qui se bat pour la justice après avoir été violée lors d’une soirée à Tunis par des policiers corrompus. La réalisatrice a contacté Mariam après avoir vu sa performance d’actrice dans Soubresauts. Basé sur une histoire vraie, La belle et la meute est une critique brûlante de la société en général – pas uniquement en Tunisie - et la façon dont les femmes sont considérées. A Milan, Mariam travaille actuellement sur le scénario de son premier long métrage : une jeune femme tunisienne, passionnée par les voyages, qui se voit être de plus en plus restreinte en raison de son origine et de son sexe. « J’ai le sentiment qu’il est de plus en plus difficile pour les gens de se promener et de voyager pour des raisons indépendantes de leur volonté. Nous n’avons pas choisi d’être arabe, d’être une femme ou d’être là où on se trouve. Notre réalité dépend souvent du hasard. Le film explorera ceci pendant le voyage d’une femme », explique Mariam. (Basé sur une interview de Melanie Goodfellow) Mariam Al Ferjani was studying medicine in her native Tunisia when she met compatriot filmmaker Leyla Bouzid. Bouzid, whose debut feature As I Open My Eyes (2016) had international success, casted Al Ferjani in her 2011 graduation short Soubresauts. “I felt so at home on the set, I decided that’s what I wanted to do,” says Al Ferjani. She exchanged her medical studies for directing and acting courses at the Civica Scuola di Cinema Luchino Visconti in Milan, where her diplomat father was based at the time. The four years studying medicine were not a waste of time, she says: “It was a magnificent domain from which to cross over into the arts, because in the early years it’s all about observation.” Outside of term-time, Al Ferjani headed home to Tunisia to direct and star in experimental shorts The Claim (Al Ediaa) and Wintry (Shatwi), based on the work of Egyptian poet Youssef Rakha. Tunisian filmmaker Ala Eddine Slim, whose debut picture The Last of Us won Venice’s Lion of the Future-Luigi De Laurentiis award in 2016, also worked on the shorts. It was a collaboration that originated in the creative scene that has sprung up in Tunis following the 2011 popular rising. “There has been an upsurge in creativity linked to the fact younger generations are able to express themselves more freely,” says Al Ferjani. Alongside her cinema studies, she is also building a following for her photographic self-portraits taken against the backdrop of intricately posed settings in which Al Ferjani inhabits various fantasy characters. “It’s been likened to the work of Cindy Sherman, but at the same time it’s very different,” explains Al Ferjani, who exhibited in Where Did We Meet Before? organized by the Tunisian artists collective La Maison de la Plage. Since graduating in 2015, Al Ferjani has been living and working between Tunis and Milan. She plays the head-role in up-and-coming Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s debut fiction feature Beauty And The Dogs (2017), starring as a young woman fighting for justice after she is raped by corrupt police officers during a night out in Tunis. The director contacted Al Ferjani on the back of her performance in Soubresauts. Based on a real-life tale, Beauty And The Dogs is a searing critique of society at large — not just in Tunisia — and the way it views women. Back in Milan, Al Ferjani is currently writing the screenplay for her first fiction feature. It will revolve around a young Tunisian woman with a passion for travel who finds herself increasingly hemmed-in because of her origin and gender. “I get the feeling it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to wander, to travel, for reasons beyond their control. We haven’t chosen to be Arab, to be a woman, or to be where we find ourselves. Our realities are often down to chance. The film will explore this through the voyage of a woman,” says Al Ferjani. (Based on an interview by Melanie Goodfellow) 18 PHOTO © KRIS DEWITTE

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