Land of Women

Nada Riyadh , Ayman El Amir
Egypt - France - Denmark

Synopsis

In a forgotten village in the south of Egypt, dominated by patriarchy, a group of disenfranchised Coptic girls rebel by forming an all-female street theatre troupe. Monika, a girl with a tomboyish voice dreams to be a singer. Magda, the young leader, dreams of studying theatre and becoming a director. Directionless Marina experiences domestic violence and suffers epileptic seizures. Meriem, along with her seven sisters, carries the shame of not having a brother in her family. Heidi dreams of being a ballet dancer. These girls resist the traditional roles they are destined for. They sing, dance and run around, performing in alleys and chanting folk songs. Their actions challenge their families and the local villagers. Girls in a rebellion against the future. Has that future already been written? What spaces of freedom can they negotiate in it? To what extent can they define their own destinies within societal restrictions? A coming-of-age group portrait of several girls at the crossroads of their lives.

Documentary
2nd feature
Director of photography

Dina El Zeneiny

Main Cast

Magda Masoud, Marina Samir, Monika Yousef, Heidi Sameh, Meriem Nassar

Production

Felucca Films (Egypt)
Ayman El Amir
[email protected]

Co-production

Magma film and TV (Denmark)
Mette-Ann Schepelern

Dolce Vita Films (France)
Marc Irmer

Director’s statement

For us, this film poses the question: On our way to adulthood, can we ever preserve our freedom? We believe the story of these girls allows for the examination of the fleeting transition between childhood and womanhood; between the imaginations of the girls and their reality, their future and their present, transcending borders of genre and form. A penetration of fiction into reality and of reality into fiction. We aim to enter the bubble of the world of this group of youths, chasing the wildness and elusiveness of being young. Their light-heartedness stands in stark contrast with their harsh reality. In this coming-of-age story, we focus on these girls, who emanate strength, resilience, intelligence, courage, and love for each other. A hybrid of documentary aesthetic and unscripted narrative, depicting real people in an insular rural community, in which non-professional actors play versions of themselves. This will allow us to explore the border between tragedy and freedom, control and submission, truth and lies, and the limitations and power of cinema.

Biographies

Nada Riyadh
Nada Riyadh
Director

Nada Riyadh is an Egyptian director and screenwriter. Her debut documentary film Happily Ever After, co-directed with Ayman El Amir, had its premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2016, and went on to be screened at more than twenty international film festivals. Her short fiction film Fakh (The Trap) was selected for the Semaine de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival in 2019. Her work focusses mainly on exploring the depth and complexity of the human psyche and relationships.

Ayman El Amir director
Ayman El Amir
Director & producer

Ayman El Amir is an Egyptian filmmaker and script consultant. His most recent work includes producing the short fiction Fakh (The Trap), which was selected for the Semaine de la Critique at the Festival de Cannes in 2019 and co-directing (with Nada Riyadh) the feature-length documentary Happily Ever After, which premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2016. He has worked as a script consultant for numerous programmes, labs and institutes, including TorinoFilmLab, the Doha Film Institute, the Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Marrakech International Film Festival’s Atlas Workshops.

Total budget

€368 114

Financing secured

€166 354

Partners attached

Hot Docs Blue Ice Documentary Fund, International Media Support, American Film Showcase, IDFA Bertha Fund, Doha Film Institute, Arab Fund for Arts and Culture

Shooting period and locations

September - December 2021, South of Egypt

Expected delivery

May 2022

Stage of post-production

We are in the middle of the production stage, which should be concluded by the end of 2021.

Looking for

Financing, distributors, sales agents, festival representatives, exhibition opportunities

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