Under the Fig Trees is the newest entry for Tunisia and director Erige Sehiri has created a quiet, meditative film about a group of four young girls who are working the fields picking figs. The entire film is set inside these orchards for one day - from the break of dawn as the sun rises to the end of their shift as the sun sets. We see these girls talk about their lives, their secret crushes, their hopes, their interpersonal dramas, their social media, and more.
It was so beautiful to watch the vast differences between the young girls and the older generation. During their lunch break, the youths would share their food with one another, laugh, run amongst the trees and take a dive in the lake. The older generation would sit quietly underneath the shade, relaxing and talking amongst themselves sharing stories and memories. It’s such subtle storytelling, and very moving.
It's nice to be reminded that every day matters, and even mundane repetitive days can be both complex and dramatic in small moments, but also delicate and beautiful in the next.
When a tree is newly planted, it’s weak and needs constant attention. As it grows older, the base of the tree gets stronger but the branches are still weak. As the young girls discover, there’s still a lot of things to learn about life and they’re just getting started. Their foundation is stronger than it was when they were babies, but they still have so much more to experience and to encounter. Watching them live life, even for just one day, is beautiful to see. They will have so many life-changing moments in the future: love, heartbreak, wins, losses, pain, happiness. Under these fig trees, we are shown the gentle difference between lives just starting out, and a life lived.