Ayten Amin

IndieLisboa 2021 •

Egypt, Tunisia, Germany, Fiction, 2021, 96′

Souad lives in a city on the Nile Delta, in Egypt, Zagazig. To her parents, she lives a conservative and veiled life. But the 19-year-old girl leads another life online, freer and without the constant scrutiny of her family life. Here, the affection we feel is towards Rabab, her younger sister. It’s her that sets out in search of answers, when Souad’s double life results in tragic consequences.

A selfie with red lipstick on is a revolutionary act shared by the two sisters in a provincial Egyptian town. A revolution that will be hidden from the vigilant eyes of their parents on the older sister’s smartphone, a device that hosts her whole alternative self. A devoted student and an obedient keeper of the family house by day, Souad is a lover by night, flirting or fighting with her fancy boyfriend from Alexandria via texts. Souad’s phone will eventually be passed on to her teenage sister, Rabab, who will chase Souad’s virtual trace as far as Alexandria. In a masterful narrative shift, the director Ayten Amin breaks from Souad’s introspective gaze to follow a more politically charged Rabab’s journey. Amin frames her second feature around the tensions that the digital revolution builds up in the traditional patriarchal society. In the background, a rarely seen rural Egypt life bursts from the screen through the whole cast of non-professional performers shoved on the busy streets or engaged in a never-ending and often improvised chatter. (Anastasia Lukovnikova)