Original title: Nezouh
Director: Soudade Kaadan
Country: Syria, United Kingdom, France
Year of production: 2022
Czas: 100 min
Awards and nominations:
2022 Venice Film Festival: Audience Award - Armani Beauty, Luigi De Laurentiis Award for a Debut Film, Lanterna Magica Award
2022 BIFA: nominated for Best Effects and Best Lead Performance: Hala Zein
This is an allegorical tale of women’s emancipation taking place in war-torn Damascus. 14-year-old Zeina and her parents are among the last residents of the city that’s been almost completely razed to the ground. One day a missile makes a huge hole in the roof of a building the family lives in, and turns a façade wall into rubble. Having been locked in their fortress governed by a strict father, now they have to live being “on display”. With a little help from a young boy from the neighbourhood, Zeina begins to sneak out through the hole in the roof to feel freedom for the first time. The family is torn between joining the wave of refugees and staying and defending the remains of their property. They don’t have much time to decide as the army of the enemy is getting closer. “Exodus”, hailed as a revelation of last year’s Venice Film Festival, is not a war film despite being placed in the context of the ongoing conflict in Syria. It’s more of a post-apocalyptic film. Zeina and her mother roam the ruins of an almost desolate city and try to find sense in “a world after the end of the world”, thus resembling characters of “The Last of Us”. To the motif of emancipation, which is very popular in today’s Middle Eastern cinema, the director added a theme of crisis of masculinity. In the reality where everything needs to be built from scratch Zeina and her mother don’t want to go back to the established patriarchal rules and submit to men’s control.
Author: Jacek Dziduszko
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Soudade Kaadan – a Syrian director born in France. She studied theatre criticism at the Higher Institute of Dramatic Arts in Syria and filmmaking at Saint Joseph University (IESAV) in Lebanon. Her first feature “The Day I Lost My Shadow” was awarded The Lion of The Future for best debut film at Venice Film Festival in 2018. A year later her short film “Aziza” won Sundance Grand Jury Prize and several other awards, e.g. in Chicago and Motovun.