As I Open My Eyes
Co-written and directed by Leyla Bouzid
Out September 9
As I Open My Eyes isn’t your average coming-of-age movie. Baya Medhaffar stars as fearless young protagonist Farah — a Tunisian girl who sings politically charged songs with her band, makes out with her boyfriend Bohrène (Montassar Ayari) in public, drinks in men’s bars, and locks her mother Hayet (Ghalia Benali) in her bedroom so she can sneak out at night. She wants to ditch medical school to study music — but there’s something larger amiss. It’s the summer of 2010, just months before political turmoil comes to a head and launches Tunisia into revolution.
Director and co-writer Leyla Bouzid uses Farah’s life to give context to the kinds of government crackdowns on personal freedom Tunisians were experiencing at that time. It takes a while to establish why Farah’s teen hijinks — like playing outspoken music and missing curfew — cause so much concern. But as the tension mounts, it becomes clear that the punishment for these youthful indiscretions will be far more serious than a simple grounding. Bouzid’s dexterous balance of live music and narrative make As I Open My Eyes a rousing experience, though she errs on the side of too much subtlety when depicting the onset of revolution. Overall, the film is a strong debut from a talented writer and director to watch. – Jenni Miller
Top photo by Kino Lorber
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