Francaise, A North African Tale
Very few Moroccan tomboys have made their way to the silver screen—particularly one as sassy and spirited as Sophia in Francaise (“French Girl”). In the film, director Souad El-Bouhati’s gives the audience an insider’s view into Sofia’s world, both as a 10-year-old, first-generation immigrant living in France and then eight years later after her father loses his job and transports the family in the dead of night back to their olive farm in Morocco.
Stunning shots of sweeping rural scenery and dusty roads give way to a bustling North African city where Sofia (played by the gorgeous award-winning actress Hafsia Herzi) lives during the week in an all girls’ school.
A smart and independent young woman, Sofia eschews women’s work and traditional life—instead donning a set of overalls and taking on the hard labor in the fields, along side her father. She plans not for marriage like her sister and other girls, but rather becomes obsessed with returning to France. Though we never see a Sapphic side, there are enough of the familiar struggles of a budding butch to spark recognition among lesbian viewers.
The San Francisco International Film Festival brings Bay Area audiences this sensitive coming-of-age story with its luscious look into Moroccan culture.
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