Nawa Recordings is proud and excited to announce the release of the original soundtrack album for Leyla Bouzid’s award winning debut feature-length film As I Open My Eyes (A peine j’ouvre les yeux), composed by Khyam Allami, worldwide on Friday 22 January.
Winner of 19 international film awards to date including a Best Film at Dubai International Film Festival and Best Film Music at La Baule Festival of Cinema and Film Music, the film tells the story of 18-year-old Farah (played by Baya Medhaffar) who sings in an alternative-rock band called Joujma, and her coming of age in pre-revolutionary Tunisia against the will of her mother Hayet (played by Tunisian songstress Ghalia Benali).
The 14-track soundtrack features original music composed, arranged and produced by Khyam Allami for the fictional band created for the film, Joujma, alongside Oud-based incidental music and Maurice Louca’s Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute the Parrot), the title track from his latest album (also released on Nawa Recordings in 2014).
Working closely from the early stages of casting and pre-production through to the final sound mixing of the film, Allami and Bouzid aimed to develop a new and youthful sound for the band, informed by Tunisian folk music such as the vocal driven songs from the city of El Kef, and inspired by artists such as Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Björk and the female lead singers in alternative rock bands such as Sonic Youth and Stereolab.
The five-piece band of non-professional actors-musicians features Baya Medhaffar as Farah (vocals), Montasser Ayari as Borhene (oud), Deena Abdelwahed as Ines (keys & electronics), and the brothers Marwen Soltana as Sami (bass) and Youssef Soltana as Ska (drums).
During pre-production Allami spent much time with Medhaffar, who makes her acting and singing debut, to help her find her voice, all the while seeking inspiration to compose the songs based on her abilities and the nuances of her adolescent character. Teaching the band the songs by rote, Allami tried to keep a balance between their musicality and a natural yet amateur edge to their performance.
The lyrics for the band’s songs were written by Tunisian writer Ghassan Amami in colloquial Tunisian Arabic, based on the film’s narrative and dramatic context. Allami used the lyrics as a catalyst for his composition, to heighten their latent symbolism and their social, cultural and political referencing, whilst serving the dynamic trajectory of the film’s plot.
The songs in the film are performed live by the band, all of whom make their acting debuts. They were then recorded in a music studio in Tunisia for the soundtrack album to feature both versions of the songs.
As I Open My Eyes / A peine j’ouvre les yeux will be available on CD (with 24 page booklet) and download, including Mastered for iTunes and lossless high-definition 24-bit/96kHz audio files.
All editions feature artwork by Lebanese designer Jana Traboulsi and trilingual booklets with lyrics in Arabic, English and French.
Digital pre-orders are available via iTunes with the film’s title track ‘Ala Hallet ‘Aini (As I Open My Eyes/A peine j’ouvre les yeux) offered as an immediate download.
For more information contact Sarah El Miniawy | Simsara | firstname.lastname@example.org
Notes to Editors
About Khyam Allami
http://www.khyamallami.com | soundcloud.com/khyamallami | youtube.com/user/khyamallami
Virtuoso oud player, serial collaborator and musical explorer. Khyam Allami is a musician and composer with a formidable – and continually growing – international reputation.
Born in Damascus in 1981 to Iraqi parents and raised in London from the age of 9, Allami grew up playing the violin, moving on to piano, guitar, bass and finally settling on the drums in his teens. He quickly developed a reputation as one of London’s most hard-hitting and original drummers playing metal, post-rock and progressive rock in the bands Art of Burning Water, Ursa and Knifeworld.
In 2004 he made another sharp turn and took up the Oud – now his principal instrument. Despite only taking up one of the Arab world’s most popular instruments in his early twenties, Allami rapidly became a performer of international renown. His remarkably assured 2011 debut solo Oud album Resonance/Dissonance was widely critically praised and nominated for the Songlines Music Awards 2012.
Energetic and charismatic, Allami has developed numerous and varied performance and recording projects since his debut album release; from co-founding the alternative Arabic group Alif, performing with Blur at London’s Olympics celebrations in Hyde Park and working with the National Youth Orchestra of Iraq, to playing drums with Tamer Abu Ghazaleh, mixing Maurice Louca’s Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan and launching his own independent record label Nawa Recordings.
In 2012 he worked with Scottish theatre director Anthony Nielsen on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s revival of Peter Weisse’s Marat/Sade for its 50th anniversary, composing and re-setting all the original song texts to new music. In 2014 he composed and performed the solo Oud soundtrack for the short film Free Range by Lebanese director Bassem Breich.
Most recently, Allami completed his first feature length film soundtrack for As I Open My Eyes/A peine j’ouvre les yeux, the debut feature film by Tunisian director Leyla Bouzid.
Following their meeting at a concert by Alif in Paris, Bouzid immediately asked Allami to join her and compose the music for the film. Since its world premiere at Venice days, as part of Venice International Film Festival, the film has gone on to receive over 19 Awards worldwide, including the Best Film Music Award at France’s Le Festival du Cinéma & Musique de Film de La Baule.
Currently Allami is preparing for a worldwide tour with Alif to support their debut album Aynama-Rtama whilst working on a new solo album both of which are due in Spring/Summer 2016.
About Leyla Bouzid
Leyla Bouzid grew up in Tunis where she was born in 1984. In 2003 she went to Paris to study French literature at the Sorbonne university and then entered the film direction department at La Fémis (École Nationale Supérieure des Métiers de l’Image et du Son).
She directed her first short Soubresauts (Mkhobbi Fi Kobba), her graduation film in Tunisia a few months before the revolution. She then chose to direct Zakaria in the south of France with non-professional actors. These two short films received a very warm welcome in festivals in France and abroad, with more than sixty selections and a dozen awards.
As I Open My Eyes is her first feature film.
- Joujma – Mel Fadda (From Boredom/De l’ennui) – Studio Version
- Joujma – Bladi (My Country/Mon pays) – Studio Version
- Joujma – Ala Hallet ‘Aini (As I Open My Eyes/A peine j’ouvre les yeux) – Studio Version
- Joujma – Touir Ellil (Bird of the Night/Oiseau de nuit) – Studio Version
- Maurice Louca – Benhayyi Al-Baghbaghan (Salute The Parrot)
- Baya Medhaffar & Khyam Allami – ‘Ala Hallet ‘Aini (As I Open My Eyes/A peine j’ouvre les yeux) – Bar Scene
- Khyam Allami – After The Accident/Après l’accident
- Joujma – Mel Fadda (From Boredom/De l’ennui) – Live Version
- Joujma – Bladi (My Country/Mon pays) – Live Version
- Joujma – Touir Ellil (Bird of the Night/Oiseau de nuit) – Rehearsal Version
- Khyam Allami – Betrayal/Trahison
- Joujma – ‘Ala Hallet ‘Aini (As I Open My Eyes/A peine j’ouvre les yeux) – Live Version
- Baya Medhaffar – Asléma Ya Hméma (The Swallow/L’hirondelle) – Beach Club Scene
- Khyam Allami – Tawazon II: or Lack of
International Awards for As I Open My Eyes / A peine j’ouvre les yeux
Venice Film Festival, Venice Days Selection, Italy
Europa Cinémas Award
Dubai International Film Festival 2015, UAE
First Prize for Best Feature Film
JCC Carthage Film Festival, Tunisia
Bronze Tanit Award
TV5 Monde Jury Award
UGTT Jury honourable mention Award
International Federation of Film Critics FIPRESCI Award
Le Festival du Cinéma & Musique de Film de La Baule, France
Best Film Award
Best Film Music Award
Best Actress Award
Festival Cinéma Méditerranéen de Bruxelles
Mention Spéciale: Ghalia Benali
Prix de la Critique (UPCB – UBFP)
Prix du Public
International Festival of Francophone films of Namur, France
Best First Fiction Film Award
Festival of Saint Jean de Luz, France
Best Film Award
Best Actress Award
War on Screen Film Festival, France
Special Mention Award
Festival of Bastia, France