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New Voices in Cinema

/ Feature Narrative / Morocco, France, Qatar / 2018
In Arabic, French / Arabic, English subtitles
Rated: Mature subject matter. Not suitable for minors. Individuals under the age of 18 are not admitted into cinemas.

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Sofia lives with her parents in Casablanca. Suffering from pregnancy denial, she finds herself breaking the law by giving birth to a baby out of wedlock. The hospital gives her 24 hours to provide them with the identification papers belonging to the father of the child before they will be forced to inform the authorities. Aided by her cousin Lena, the pair embark on a desperate attempt to locate the father and convince him to acknowledge the child. When Sofia’s parents become involved, an uneasy agreement is reached with Omar, the suspected father, and his mother, deftly illustrating the class division between the two families.

The feature debut from Morocco-born, Belgium-educated Meryem Benm’Barek is a delicate portrait of contemporary Moroccan society. Expertly cast, Sofia (Maha Alemi), and her cousin Lena (Sarah Perles) give compelling performances that perfectly embody the two faces of modern Morocco— one traditional and reticent, the other outspoken and idealistic. Winner of the best screenplay prize in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section last year, ‘Sofia’ is a nuanced yet powerful study of feminism and the double standards that face women in a largely patriarchal culture.