SOFIA Unclassified 18+
Tackling Morocco’s treatment of pregnancy outside of marriage, debut feature director Meryem Benm’Barek won best screenplay at Cannes’ Un Certain Regard for her Casablanca-set examination of everyday oppression.
In parts of Northern Africa, including Morocco, sex outside of wedlock carries a mandatory jail sentence of up to one year. It’s a grim reality that looms over 20-year-old Sofia (Maha Alemi) when stomach cramps turn into unexpected labour. Her medical student cousin Lena (Sarah Perles) attempts to help, but a trip to the hospital soon sees Sofia’s disapproving parents scrambling to cover up her situation – and to provide paperwork identifying the father.
Earning comparisons to Beauty and the Dogs (MIFF 2017) and 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days (MIFF 2007), Benm’Barek’s film explores a reality that’s all too common in her country. With striking intimacy and naturalism, the writer/director dismantles a regime that places women under patriarchal control, and exposes the economic, bureaucratic and class barriers facing a generation caught between tradition and modernity.
"Benm’Barek is brilliant at capturing the unspoken body language that communicates so much." – One Room with a View
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