Nov 10th 2022


A pioneering work of Moroccan women’s cinema, A DOOR TO THE SKY (Bab Al-Sama Maftuh, 1988) is a powerful feminist tale of Islamic spiritual awakening and the interplay of cultural heritage and modern identity. When Nadia, a young Franco-Moroccan woman, returns to Fez to see her dying father after years spent living in France, she begins a journey of self-transformation. With the help of a new friend, Nadia decides to turn her family home into a zawiya, a Sufi spiritual home for women, and a site to explore collective women-centered interpretations of Islam. The sprawling house with patterned walls and enveloping geometry becomes a setting for camaraderie as well as divergence—pulsing with practices of daily life, singing, dancing, and dialogue among Moroccan women of varied backgrounds and experiences.

A DOOR TO THE SKY is a remarkable first feature film by Farida Benlyazid, notable in its ability to create a complex environment for questioning cultural identity while exploring the intersection of feminism and Muslim spirituality from a transnational perspective.

Farida Benlyazid (b. 1948, Tangier) has contributed to Moroccan cinema in a variety of roles as a scriptwriter, director of fiction and nonfiction, and producer from the 1970s to today. Following the screening, we will present a special conversation recorded with the filmmaker for this occasion. The discussion is in French with English subtitles.

Presented with support from the Villa Albertine Chicago – Cultural Service of the French Embassy and MENA at Northwestern University.

Special thanks to Farida Benlyazid, Dr. Florence Martin, Professor William Higbee, and Fayçal Maanan for their support of this event, as well as Africa in Motion Film Festival and the Transnational Moroccan Cinema Project from the University of Exeter for the digital restoration.


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