Director Director's note

This film is classical in its “impossible love” storyline. Yet, beneath that apparent simplicity, it raises the question of femininity in the Orient, but also the complexity of gender relationships, the desire of women and their mostly unfulfilled pleasure.
The taboos that surround the issue of female sexuality, as well as those concerning freedom of speech in Egypt, led me towards a long and hard political battle in order to obtain an authorization to shoot on location in Cairo. I was also forced to adapt my scenario in a manner that rendered acceptable to the censorship board while retaining all I wanted to say.

I used the realities surrounding me to talk of these issues, classic arab poetry and literature, and the story of a seemingly everyday girl. In fact, 97% of women are excised in Egypt today (according to the UNDP and Amnesty International), and a text such as The thousand and one night, was actually forbidden from publication, withdrawn from the market, under the pretext of pornography.

Beyond the evocation of these taboos and their omnipresence in the Egyptian mundane, I wanted to carry a graceful look on the east, beyond the veil of clichés that usually stigmatizes the occidental point of view, one that allows the orient to be restored in its just and rightful place and value. For we are today at a point where two cultures, two civilizations are in constant confrontation with each other due to ignorance, leading to an inability to communicate, exchange or engage in a fruitful dialog.

For this dialog to happen I favoured all the aesthetic elements of the film with a will to preserve the authenticity of Egypt but an intention to distil all the hidden beauty and sensuality that people usually miss or dismiss.  I put forward the visual styles and colours of the country, giving the film a range of tonalities that extends from the brightly modern to the Egyptian tomb as they both coexist naturally. Skin took a notable place. The skin of the characters, its velvety tones, its undulations, as that of the city, are in constant shudder; delivering all their buried sensuality.
Alongside this goal, I thrived to modernise the classical Egyptian musical.

When watching this film, one should strip from all customary references and codes and submerge into a cinematic language justified by the codes and narrative devices that pertain to the culture that produced it, and follow the story of Dunia, the young excised woman that rediscovers her body through Sufi poetry and dance, even though both are looked down upon in her society. And that of a man, Beshir, who accompanies her through her difficult apprenticeship, a man whose sudden blindness offers him a new approach to poetry and the feminine body. 

The quaking of the city, Sufi love poetry, the sensuality of the words and bodies, all compete as to awaken the young Dunia and to help her find her own voice away from the looming shadows of conformity.
Women Desire Pleasure Dance Music Politics