Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Fatima Jebli Ouazzani, who previously created both dramatic and documentary short films, made her feature directorial debut with this 66-minute Dutch documentary (in Dutch, Arabic, and French). With a diaristic approach and an expansion of themes introduced in her short films, this exploration of women's issues intercuts between Dutch and Moroccan locations. Almost 40, Ouazzani lives in Amsterdam and doesn't communicate with her father, turning away from accepted traditions of Moroccan gender roles (which led her mother and grandmother into unhappy marriages when they were 14 years old). Even so, Ouazzani can't escape the past, and she features her grandparents in interview segments, contrasting this with Netherlands-born Naima, who chooses to have a large wedding in rural Morocco. Traditionally, bloodstained sheets from the wedding night are displayed as "proof" of purity, yet several medical experts are shown here stating that many virgins do not bleed, and one dramatized sequence depicts a frightened bride pursued through streets by an angry mob because she failed to produce the expected "evidence" of chastity. Shown at the 1998 San Francisco Film Festival.
culture [social culture], custom [habit or practice], Islam, Muslim, oppression, religion, sexual, virgin