Dora Bouchoucha, patron of the 15th edition of the Fabrique Cinéma
Dora Bouchoucha, producer and major figure of Tunisian and international cinema, is patron of the 15th edition of the Fabrique Cinéma of the Institut français, within the framework of the Cannes Film Festival.
Updated on 17/05/2023
You have been a film producer since 1994. How did you get into this line of work?
Dora Bouchoucha: When I started, I didn't consider becoming a producer at all. I am a teacher, I come from literature, and that is perhaps why I remained closely involved in this aspect of cinema: the screenplay. I started by translating subtitles and scripts, before working with one of the greatest Tunisian producers, Ahmed Attia, for whom I read scripts, such as Moufida Tlatli's Les Silences du palais. One day, I read a script that I liked a great deal but he was not interested, so I decided to produce it myself.
Your work with emerging cinema, in particular Tunisian and African cinema, has earned you many plaudits and awards. What does all this work inspire in you?
Dora Bouchoucha: What interests me is the supporting role, particularly with regard to the writing the screenplay. For me, the quality of the script remains one of the best guarantees for a good film. This is why I set up the Sud Écriture workshops in 1997, which caused a bit of confusion at the time because the written word was not much valued in cinema. Now we receive more and more requests, and many of the films that we have supported have found their way, selected at Cannes, Venice or Berlin, before being released in cinemas. For a good ten years now, African and Arab cinema has been on the rise, with fourteen films programmed this year at the Cannes Film Festival. On a more personal level, my colleague Lina Chaabane and I are also very happy to see that several films we have supported through Sud Écriture workshops have been selected at Cannes without our production involvement. It is a process that can last for three or four years. On a continent where there are not many film schools, it is important to meet figures who allow us to progress, as was my case with Ahmed Attia, who helped me a lot. The reward for this work is to see so much talent emerge among this generation.
You are the patron of the 15th edition of the Fabrique Cinéma of the Institut français, a programme to identify and promote filmmakers and producers from the South and developing countries. During the Cannes Film Festival, 10 feature-length fiction projects will receive tailor-made support. How do you fit into this programme and what is your role with directors and producers?
Dora Bouchoucha: The work carried out by the Fabrique Cinéma over the past fifteen years is fantastic, it is an extraordinary springboard. About ten pairs of directors and producers will benefit from support, which is crucial, and which corresponds to what I have been trying to do for years through various labs, such as Sud Ecriture, the Ouaga Film Lab and others. It's a question of giving them a foothold, so that young people from the South can find their way in an environment that can be difficult when you are starting out.
It's an à la carte programme that familiarises them with all the stages of making a film. They will meet many people who will coach them, but as their patron I will be their principal mentor and I will share my experience with them in the hope that this will be beneficial to them.
They are talents who express a new vision of the world that is their own, and it is important to work with them on their original vision, without any magic recipe on how to tell a story. Once the intention is incorporated, the rest is easier.
Among the projects selected by the Institut français' Fabrique Cinéma is a Tunisian feature film (Le Procès de Leïla by Charlie Kouka, produced by Cyrine Sellami (Nomadis Images). How has Tunisian cinema evolved in recent years?
Dora Bouchoucha: I am the co-producer of this beautiful project, which we helped to write. It is an interesting film that tells the story of a sort of Tunisian Joan of Arc, who uses a very intelligent reading of her religion, Islam, to free herself and assert herself.
As for the country's overall situation, despite many difficulties, Tunisian cinema is currently very dynamic. On the other hand, certain laws in the country that date back to the 1960s need to be changed, because they hinder the work of filmmakers. For example, the obligation to have a professional registration to obtain a shooting permit is an aberration. The legislation concerning cinema in general must be profoundly modified to facilitate the dynamism of our beautiful cinema.
The selection also includes a Nigerian feature film, a first for the Fabrique. What is your general view of African cinema today?
Dora Bouchoucha: We have already supported a Nigerian film as part of the Ouaga Film Lab: Mami Wata, a beautiful work by C.J. 'Fiery' Obasi, which won several awards. Little by little, an independent cinema is establishing itself in Nigeria, very different from the Nollywood productions screened across the continent. More broadly, African films are increasingly being programmed at major international festivals. Previously, African cinema was limited to a few well-known names, such as Idrissa Ouedraogo, Souleymane Cissé, Mahamat Saleh Haroun or Abderrahmane Sissako. But in recent years, partly thanks to professionalising initiatives such as the Ouaga Film Lab and Sud Ecriture, more and more projects are making their way to the major festivals. It is important that figureheads emerge, who then allow funds to appear at a national level. This is what happened in Niger with Aïcha Macky, for example, or in Senegal with Alain Gomis, where aid funds were recently set up in the wake of their success.
Do you have any other projects you are currently working on?
Dora Bouchoucha: I work in partnership with my colleague Lina Chaabane. We don't produce many films, but we are involved from the very start when we do. We work closely with the director, some of whom we have been following for almost twenty years. This is the case with Raja Amari and Mohamed Ben Attia, whose latest film, Les Ordinaires, we are currently working on. We are also currently working as co-producers on a film by the Algerian director Karim Moussaoui and the Egyptian director Morad Mostafa, whose latest short film has been selected for this year's Semaine de la Critique.
Most popular within the same topic