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2018 - France, Qatar - 80 min.

The monthly French Cinémathèque Series at the Avalon Theatre, in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, presents the screening of Sofia by Meryem Benm'Barek.

When twenty-year-old Sofia buckles over in pain during a family gathering, her cousin Lena whisks her off to a hospital, telling her family she is taking her to the pharmacy to seek relief from a stomach ache. In fact, Sofia has gone into labor without knowing she was pregnant.

From here, writer-director Meryem Benm’Barek embarks the viewer on a nightmarish journey: Lena must implore a doctor to allow her unmarried cousin to deliver at his facility, where Sofia is dismissed immediately after the birth and instructed to come back with the father or face prosecution. Holding her newborn daughter, Sofia leads her cousin to one of Casablanca’s slums, in search of the father she barely knows.

Belgian cinematographer Son Doan’s mutable camerawork is calibrated with Benm'Barek's every shift of tone and melded seamlessly with the actresses' delivery. Benm’Barek’s confidence as a storyteller, particularly in delivering a stunning third-act twist, lifts Sofia above the level of social protest to reveal a profoundly complex, endlessly fascinating reality. 

In French and Arabic with English subtitles

This film is part of Young French Cinema, a program of UniFrance.