The breaking of her waters at a family gathering mean that 20-yr-old Sofia, daughter of a well-to-do Casablanca family, can no longer deny, to herself or anyone else, that she is pregnant. This will usher in serious consequences in a country - Morocco - where sex out of wedlock is an imprisonable offence. Whisked away from the party by her cousin, she gives birth in a hospital which admits her on condition that she produce her husband within 24 hours or face the consequences.
At this point you might anticipate a heartfelt, Western-Liberal denunciation of narrow-minded laws and expectations, but this is a far more nuanced and ambitious film than that, as the sullen, apparently meek Sofia transcends, in a most unexpected manner, the victimhood that seems to be her lot. The central critique of the subjugation of women and of class is still there - the film is eye-opening in its exploration of class politics, women’s issues, social pressures and bureaucracy in modern Morocco - but it’s the subtleties of character and the interactions of the marvellous ensemble cast that make Sofia , the debut feature of director Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi, such a gripping watch.
Sofia is the winner of numerous festival awards, most notably the Un Certain Regard Screenplay Prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Sofia also took the FIPRESCI Prize, International Competition at the 2018 Thessaloniki Film Festival and the Best Director award for Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi at the 2018 Bratislava International Film Festival.
“It’s rare to leave the cinema wishing a 90-minute film was longer, but Meryem Benm’Barek’s Sofia shows enough promise to demand a more substantial story… Benm’Barek is brilliant at capturing the unspoken body language that communicates so much…” - Tom Bond, One Room With a View.
”…seems like yet another critique of Islam’s intrusion into how women live their lives and what they choose to do with their bodies. As the story progresses, we find it’s a far more complex study of both Morocco’s conservative tradition and its new embracing of western style capitalism.” - Eric Hillis, The Movie Waffler.
“My story began quite naturally. I asked myself how a drama such as this could highlight every aspect of how a society operates.” - director Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloïsi.
YourScreen audience comments:
“Watched Sofia, still thinking about that turning point on the script!!! like very much.”
“super and rich content to speak about with others!”