Overthrowing a dictator is the easy part.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Jessie Deeter
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Because it seemed to be the most vital film to make-the story of what happens after the Revolution. Nobody was making that film.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch this film because it is a great story with characters you can love who are struggling to create something new and meaningful. It also has interesting parallels to our current (American) struggles around democracy. It also will give you two very different but equally valid takes on what democracy means and how it could be lived.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The personal and universal are tightly woven in our film, as one of our characters tells us, “My personal situation is inseparable from the general situation in the country.”
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
We began following two young, unmarried women and a country that had just overturned an old regime, everyone young and idealistic and hopeful and full of dreams for what it would mean to be a democracy and to be married women and wives. As events that we couldn’t plan (being a documentary rather than a scripted film) transpire, we get to witness the women and the country grow and evolve into complete women, juggling husbands and babies and careers as their country also has to confront the reality of what it means to try to become a democracy after decades of authoritarian rule.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The film has had pretty universal appeal among its viewers, Tunisian and American alike, although one real test will be its reception in Tunisia. The biggest criticism of the film thus far from Tunisians has been that they would have liked us to include more details about the politics of the country, but we worked really hard to give the viewer the bare minimum required to let them know what was happening but still keep the story moving forward.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We haven’t heard anything that has surprised us yet, probably because over the course of the 5 ½ years of making the film, we made sure to have multiple screenings with many types of audiences, and have been incorporating audience feedback as we have gone through the process. We also have a small advisory team of experts in and on Tunisia to keep us honest in terms of our portrayal of events in the country.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
We have had great reception in Europe thus far, and are just kicking off our U.S. tour (after coming out at Hot Docs in Toronto). Since its completion, A REVOLUTION IN FOUR SEASONS has become increasingly timely and relevant to our American audience, and we would hope that some of your readers might find us on your site and request our film in their town.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We have two wonderful distributors, Women Make Movies in the U.S. and Sideways Film in the UK. We are still looking for the right U.S. home for the film after its festival run. We would also like a few more reviews.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
This film is a unique record of what happens after you land a revolution in a country, a testament to the will and spirit of the Tunisians who remain the only citizens of the six Arab Spring nations left standing with a shot at establishing a real democracy.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Can Islam and democracy co-exist?
Would you like to add anything else?
Parenthetically, the parallels between struggles that Tunisians are experiencing in the film and we Americans are experiencing now have grown increasingly relevant after this election. Challenges remain for Tunisia, to be sure. People want to see more of the upside of the Revolution in their daily lives. They want jobs, they are tired of of corruption in a government that is still trying to rid itself of the old way of doing things, terrorism is hurting their tourism and their progressive image in the West…But I thinkit should be remembered is that Tunisia has managed a few fairly incredible things in only six years since its revolution.
Tunisia has held two free and fair elections (the second, in 2014, comprised of two elections and a presidential runoff), complete with changes of power, one instance in which a democratically-elected Islamic ruler voluntarily stepped aside rather than allow his country to sink into civil war, and the creation of a constitution that is one of the progressive in the MENA regions, of which all Tunisians I spoke were incredibly proud. The process of democracy is messy and hard and far from simple, but in this case you have a country of Tunisians, as we see in our characters, actively participating in a government in a way they never have before. I think there is a lot of reason to be hopeful and proud of that accomplishment.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Director Jessie has been working on a film about artificial intelligence that will come out later in 2017 and has a couple of other projects in the works that are still in stealth mode.
Co-producer and editor Sara is working on two projects based in Palestine and Lebanon.
Co-producer Rob Peterson has several projects in the works.
Editor Bill Weber just finished a documentary called The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.
Editor Chris Peterson is working on a scripted series called The Last Tycoon.
Tunisian cameramen Hattem Nechi and Bassem Aounallah continue to do excellent work in Tunisia and all over the world.
Interview: February 2017
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A REVOLUTION IN FOUR SEASONS
Overthrowing a dictator is the easy part.
Length: 88 MINS
Director: JESSIE DEETER
Producer: JESSIE DEETER
Writer: JESSIE DEETER
Producer/Director Jessie Deeter’s producing and directing credits include Spark: A Burning Man Story, which debuted at SXSW in 2013 and Death by Fire which opened PBS's FRONTLINE season in 2010. Jessie is the producer of Who Killed the Electric Car? (Sony Pictures Classics, 2006) and she produced Revenge of the Electric Car, which aired on PBS’s Independent Lens after its Tribeca premiere in 2011. She also produced on Alex Gibney’s Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, and is currently the producer of Busy Child (working title), a feature documentary about artificial intelligence with director Chris Paine slated for release in 2017.
Jessie has an MJ and MA from UC Berkeley and was a Fulbright scholar in Oman, Morocco and Tunisia in 2010-11. She speaks fluent French and working Tunisian and Moroccan Arabic.