Art as Way of Opposing
The Tunisian film director Nouri Bouzid will be awarded the
Ibn Rushd Prize for Freedom of Thought 2007
The Prize competition of the Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought was announced in the beginning of 2007 to be awarded to „an Arab film maker, who has dedicated himself to freedom and democracy and has tackled the problems of social and political taboos through his works, critically investigating related phenomena and practices from a new perspective“.
Nouri Bouzid (*1945) is one of the most dinstinguished and successful film directors in the Arab world. Having grown up in the industrial city of Sfax (second biggest city in Tunisia), he goes to Belgium as a young man to study drama and film production at the Institut National Superieur des Arts du Spectacle (INSAS) between 1989 and 1972 after which he returns to Tunisia in 1972. For his membership of the GEAST (Groupe d’Etudes et d’Action Socialiste Tunisien) Nouri Bouzid was imprisoned for five years by the Tunisian government. His experience of humiliation and torture in prison has shapen the at that time still young and frail Bouzid and left its marks on his future film work.
In 1986 he produces his
first own feature film „L`homme de cendres“ (Man
Made of Ash), which deals with
homosexuality. Bouzid has experienced sexual abuse for himself. His film was
shown in the official selection in
In cooperation with other artists Bouzid shows his critical position towards the American gulf-war in a short-film of 1990.
In 1992 he again dedicated himself to a greater project. He dealt with the problem of sex tourism in his film „Bezness“. The title is a parody of the English word „business“. Tourism is one of the main sources of income of the Tunisian state. First, the government withdrew its subvention and allowance for filming in the capital. Only when the film is acknowledged worldwide it is shown on Tunisian television.
This is mainly Bouzid’s
main criticism, that in modern societies people and ideals are being judged
only according to materialistic standards. Bouzid is mainly interested in
people’s feelings and emotions, in people who have been injured, because they
are torn between the apparently secure coordinates of their sociocultural
establishment and the slackening of Western modernism.
In his last film „Making of“ (Arabic „Akhir film“, which means = „The Last Film“), which was awarded first prize on the film festival of Carthage in 2006, Bouzid concerns himself with the question of why young men are willing to take their lives in a suicide bombing. In an interview with Larissa Bender he speaks of the forlornness of Arab youth on the spiritual level and their „desperation with regard to economy“. This prepares the ground for fundamental Islam, which knows how to use the interior gagging in rigid social structures and the exterior rage against the presumptuousness of Western policy in their region. „It becomes obvious in this film who has the responsibility... We are all responsible: the police is responsible, the absence of freedom is responsible, the family structure, the failure of education system... we all have prepared the young man and Islamists have plucked him.“
Nouri Bouzid will
personally travel from
A reception with tea and bakhlava will conclude the celebrations and leave room for personal discussion.
Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought
Gitschinerstr. 17, 10969 Berlin
Tel.: 0049 (0) 30-6158596