Walker Art Center

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A Door to the Sky (Bab Al-Sama Maftouh)

Directed by Farida Benlyazid

Part of A Riff on the Rif: In the Spirit of the Cinematheque Tangier

“A passionate, often beautiful exploration into affairs of the spirit and the intellect” —Michael Dembrow

The first surprise in this film is its dedication to Fatima al-Fihri, a Muslim woman who in the year 859 AD founded in Morocco the world’s first (and still functioning) university. Nadia, a young Moroccan emigré with orange hair and punk clothing, returns from Paris to Fez for her father’s funeral, expecting to fly out again in a day. Overcome by the voice of a woman chanting the Koran, she decides to stay and turn her father’s villa into a women’s shelter in this rare film exploring positive aspects of Islam for women. In addition to directing, Farida Benlyazid has an extensive career as editor and scriptwriter of the best North African films. 1989, Morocco, in Arabic and French with English subtitles, 107 minutes.


Album: Cinematheque Tangier, a project by Yto Barrada is made possible by generous support from the Bentson Foundation.