The ceremony took place in front of the French Labour Minister Xavier Darcos, Greek director Costa-Gavras, President of the Cinematheque Française Serge Toubiana, French actor Michel Piccoli, and a selected audience of filmmakers, producers, actors, distributors, journalists and critics from Europe and the Arab world, including several filmmakers from Tunisia.
“This is a particularly moving moment for the French Republic to give this honour to the great filmmaker Nouri Bouzid, an honour which he has long deserved,” Mitterrand remarked during the award ceremony.
The French minister recalled the artistic journey of Nouri Bouzid saying that the director “has marked many lives with his love of cinema.”
Mitterrand spoke of Bouzid’s childhood at Sfax, his education in Brussels and the years he spent alongside Pasquale Festa Campanila, an Italian filmmaker.
“Bouzid has created remarkable reflections of Tunisian society and his films are marked by his ability to reveal the beauty, as in Man of Ashes. Bouzid’s work expresses a life of passion, creativity and suffering. He is a creative rebel against the powers and experienced directly their hand,” Mitterand continued.
The minister also commented on Bouzid’s other films such as Golden Horseshoes and Bezness. Mitterrand stressed that there is now a new chapter in the history of Tunisia, adding that for new filmmakers it is important to learn from the example that Bouzid has set.
In response, Bouzid thanked the minister and the support he received from Amnesty International when he was a militant, saying that the Cannes Festival helped him resist the dictatorship.
Speaking to young filmmakers, the director advised them never to give up, underlining that there are many incredibly talented, young filmmakers who should keep on working, without losing their modesty.
Bouzid also spoke of the dangers facing the nascent revolutions of which we should not lose sight. "We must stand against all forms of fundamentalism. I cannot accept an Islamist government, regardless of its moderate stances.”
He pointed out his concerns that US policies would accept Islamic interference in governments, to showcase the Arab world as guinea pigs capable of embracing religious moderation.