Hidden BeautiesOriginal Title: Manmoutesh
Director: Nouri Bouzid
Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, France | Arabic
is the poignant tale of two young Tunisian women striving to achieve the same level of emancipation enjoyed by the male population of their country – even as their fellow citizens fight for freedom. Veteran director Nouri Bouzid portrays sensitive accounts of family drama and tortured romance against the backdrop of political and religious conflict in the Arab world.
Surrounded by the turmoil of revolution, Zainab and Aisha are inspired to change the course of their own lives. In a male-dominated society, that is easier said than done, but they are unrelenting in their pursuit of equality. Brahim, Zainab’s fiancé, wants his future wife to put on the Islamic veil; and Hamza, Zainab’s brother and Aisha’s love interest, disapproves of the women’s lifestyle and choices. Aisha, in turn, assumes full responsibility of looking after her family after the death of her parents. Under pressure to remove her veil from her boss at work, she struggles to balance her beliefs with the need for income.
As one woman resists putting on the veil and another resists taking it off, the two friends stand together in their fight. Their course resonates as a metaphor for all the uncertainties in the country’s political future.
Bouzid does not spare anyone in depicting the tension, violence and sorrow as a result of the revolution. He himself takes on the role of a blind accordionist, who touches our hearts with his songs, and leaves us longing for peace in our world.
– Suad Shamma