“Dear Sister, Your image is dear to us.
Take care of it; otherwise, we will.”
The poster prescribing hijab for Algerian women outside a women’s hostel reveals the rise of Islamic extremism in 90s Algeria and sets the tone of the film. Lyna Khoudri plays a young girl aspiring to be a fashion designer in a country caught in the middle of civil war where girls are routinely gunned down for non-conformism. Debutant Mounia Meddour’s PAPICHA (2019, French-Algerian) works up all the usual tropes to delineate the protagonist’s struggle and still makes the film gripping. Touching upon the themes of bonding and resistance, the handheld camerawork and quick cuts convey the urgency and fear that permeates the film without letting go of its resilient spirit.
Look up this spirited film on MUBI.
Ranjan Das is a Mumbai based filmmaker and faculty.