Hafsia Herzi’s Directorial Debut Premieres at Cannes

The Tunisian-Algerian actress on her new film

The 72nd Cannes Film Festival— the world’s most important film event and largest film market—begins tomorrow on the French Riviera and will host the best in cinema from around the world. This year’s 58th edition of International Critics’ Week (arguably the most challenging and boundary-pushing of the festival), presided by producer, writer and historian Charles Tesson, will present eight feature films, including Tu Mérites un Amour (You Deserve a Love) by 32-year-old Tunisian-Algerian actress Hafsia Herzi.

Herzi, famed for her performance in Abdellatif Kechiche’s The Secret of the Grain, which earned her the César award for Best Emerging Actress in 2008, is taking her first big turn behind the camera with a heartrending portrait of Lila (a young woman played by Herzi), who lets herself go as she tries to recover from a complicated breakup.  

“I’ve always wanted to film”, says Herzi before adding, “I’ve been writing for years now, whenever I’ve had time in-between shooting”. In 2010 Herzi presented her first short, Le Rodba, at the Venice Film Festival. But she admits You Deserve a Love feels different to her. “It’s a film that I had in my archives. I just spontaneously woke up one morning and decided I had to make it happen”, she explains. Herzi surrounded herself with a team of young “first-time” technicians and actors and self-produced the film alone. “This film is the result of instinct and mektoub” she says, “I’m so happy and grateful for all the love and passion my team has put into it. It feels unbelievable”.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 14 until May 25.


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