8 November 2018 | barevfilm
a stunning debut film by a Franco-Moroccan director
The keynote of the festival this year has been a strong focus on female filmmakers. Among exceptional distaff side films seen here, was one by a veteran with a venerable track record, Margarethe von Trotta's documentary "Searching for Ingmar Bergman" and the Moroccan family drama "Sofia" helmed most skillfully and meaningfully by a young first tîme Franco-Morrocan director Meryem Benm'Barek - a stunning debut if ever there was one.
The latter film was entered in the section known as Un Certain Regard, (A special look) whose objectives is to discover new talent and lesser known directors. To summarize the effect on the audience of Ms. Ben'Barek's opus, suffice it to say that it was followed by a twenty minute standing ovation in the presence of the entire film lineup.
The story, told largely in facial closeups, is basically that of a young girl not particularly attractive, who is found to be pregnant with no presumable father in sight. Eventually he will be tracked down and a proper marriage performed but at the very end the young man, earlier a bushy haired loser but now a clean cut young nan with a proper job, assures Sofia that he will do his best to be a proper father to their child but -- cut and dry -- "don't ever expect ne to be in live with you". Sounds pretty simple but this is a subtly moving story that peeps behind every corner of Muslim morality with a highly critical eye. All the principal actors, young and old, are excellent in their roles. Clearly a case of talent plus unerring direction. The film is half in French and half in Moroccan dialect but thus is definitely an Arab film and this writer, personally, cannot wait to see what will come next from this director and her actors....notably Maha Alemi in the title role