Film Review: Souad

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Like most men, I was simply unaware of the sheer magnitude of the issues faced by girls and women on a daily basis. The #METOO movement has opened many eyes and shown a lot of men up for what they really are, but it’s questionable how much difference it has made to daily lives in countries such as the UK. The transition into adulthood is stressful enough at the best of times but for teenage girls in traditional societies there’s a whole extra layer of complexity. This is the case in Souad.

Souad (Bassant Ahmed) is a nineteen-year-old living in a small city in Egypt. She lives two very separate lives. On the surface, she projects the perfect picture of conservatism and religious piety to her family and wider society. While in the sanctum of her friendship group and the anonymity of social media she has an entirely different persona, embracing Western ideals and embarking on virtual relationships with men. After tragedy strikes, her younger sister (Basmala Elghaiesh) seeks out one of her beaus (Hussein Ghanem) to get answers.

Souad is a vibrant and naturalistic film about the perils of pitfalls of growing up as a young woman in a traditional religious society. Using a cast of non-professionals affords Ayten Amin’s film an added air of believability and in Souad’s troubles she encompasses the anxieties and conflicts faced by a whole generation of girls around the world. Souad is bold and powerful filmmaking from an exciting new voice in Arab cinema.

Souad is released in UK cinemas on 27 August.

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