Mehdi M. Barsaoui

Tunisia, France, Lebanon, Qatar, 2019 / 96 min / Arabic and French OV with French subt. / drama

Young Aziz’s parents are left to grapple with their past as his life hangs by a thread after being hit by a stray bullet.

Tunisia in the summer of 2011. Farès and Meriem, a young and wealthy couple, live in a loving relationship and form a modern Tunisian family with their ten-year-old son Aziz. To celebrate Meriem’s promotion, they decide to go on a holiday to Tataouine in southern Tunisia. But their holiday ends in a disaster when their car is targeted by terrorists. In the ambush, Aziz is accidentally shot and badly injured. To survive, he urgently needs a liver transplant which leads to the discovery of a long-buried secret shaking the parents’ relationship to the core.

The family’s disintegration and the parents’ dilemmas act as a clever metaphor on Tunisia’s turbulent state after the Arab Spring and tackles a nation’s view on paternity, masculinity and gender equality.

“I live in a patriarchal society based on Muslim-Arab values, deeply entrenched in ways that hold the Father as sacred. These values sometimes confine paternity to a blood relationship, a surname, a genetic sequence. Bik Eneich – Un Fils is not just a film about fatherhood; it’s also a film about a couple, their place in society, and also about empowerment—both feminine and masculine. It’s a journey towards the truth—towards emancipation.” Director’s statement by Mehdi M. Barsaoui


Mon 09/03 16:30 Ciné Utopia Arabic & FR OV with FR subt. Public

"It’s a film reminiscent of the work of Iranian master Asghar Farhadi, full of twists and turns as it puts its characters in increasingly tragic situations. Director Barsaoui is astute in how he focuses the story on the disintegration of the family as a metaphor for the problems in Tunisia without being overtly political. The film works on several levels: as a drama about morality, as a story on the changing place of women in society and as a political allegory. […] An exciting and complex debut from another Tunisian director showing much promise." Kaleem Aftab, Cineuropa, 31/08/2019

" Not many debuting directors are able to bring subtlety and depth to a heart-rending subject, which is just one reason why Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s superb A Son deserves significant attention. […] Barsaoui's sensitive script delves into issues of masculinity and paternity without losing sight of the strong female character and her double trauma as she faces the potential loss of both child and husband. Shrewdly weaving politics throughout the film while keeping outward statements in the background, A Son is grounded in the recent Tunisian past but will easily transcend cultural differences" Jay Weissberg, Variety, 06/09/2019

"An exciting debut from a new voice in Arab cinema. […] Being simultaneously a husband, a father and a man can be a lot of work, but what if one or more of these roles are being called into question or become mutually incompatible? Bouajila’s unassuming yet intelligent performance takes viewers right into this minefield of questions. […] Barsaoui has a bright future ahead of him as a director of dramas that expertly capture complex human emotions within their socio-cultural, historical and political context" Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, 31/08/2019

"A Son compellingly explores the expression "a matter of life and death" via a suspenseful and emotionally draining tale of reverberating collateral damage" Lisa Nesselson, Screen International, 03/09/2019

  • UNFPA Award, Cairo International Film Festival, 2019 (Egypt)
  • Salah Abu Seif Award – Best Artistic Contribution, Cairo International Film Festival, 2019 (Egypt)
  • Saad Eldin Wahba Award – Best Arabic Film, Cairo International Film Festival (Egypt)
  • Golden Coconut for the Best Actor, Hainan International Film Festival, 2019 (China)
  • Golden Coconut for the Best Screenwriter, Hainan International Film Festival, 2019 (China)
  • Young Talent Award – Best Feature Film, Hamburg Film Festival, 2019 (Germany)
  • Venice Horizons Award – Best Actor for Sami Bouajila, Venice Film Festival, 2019 (Italy)
Cast & Credits
Sami Bouajila, Najla Ben Abdallah, Youssef Khemiri, Noomen Hamda, Qasim Rawane, Slah Msaddak, Mohamed Ali Ben Jemaa
Mehdi M. Barsaoui
Antoine Héberlé
Lucas Héberlé, Romain Huonnic, Cyprien Vidal, Elory Humez
Sophie Abdelkefi
Amine Bouhafa
Cinetelefilms, Dolce Vita Films, 13 Productions
Metafora Production, Sunnyland Film, Shortcut Films, Jour2Fête

Born in 1984 and raised in Tunisia, Mehdi M. Barsaoui is director and graduate of the Higher Institute of Multimedia Arts of Tunis. He also holds a degree in film direction from DAMS in Bologna, Italy. He has directed three short films to date. His most recent, We’re Just Fine Like This (2016), won the Golden Muhr for Best Film in Dubai the year of its release. His international career began with A Son (2019), his debut feature-length film, selected at the 76th Venice Film Festival where its lead, Sami Bouajila, won the Venice Horizons Award for the Best Actor.

  • 2019 – Bik eneich – Un fils
  • 2016 – On est bien comme ça (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)
  • 2013 – Bobby (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)
  • 2010 – À ma place (court-métrage / short / Kurzfilm)