Film Review: ‘Sofia’ — a damsel in distress and a selfish solution

A still from the film "Sofia."(Supplied)
Updated 31 December 2018
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Film Review: ‘Sofia’ — a damsel in distress and a selfish solution

CHENNAI: Moroccan writer-director Meryem Benm’Barek-Aloisi’s “Sofia” tells us in just 80 minutes the sorrowful story of a young woman who gives birth to a child out of wedlock and then, pushed to the edge, manipulates the crisis to her advantage.

“Sofia” follows protagonist Sofia (played by Maha Alemi) as she discovers she is pregnant. She is unmarried, and a child out of wedlock is a crime.

The film, which premiered at Cannes 2018 and is part of the Arab Cinema Competition, starts at a dinner table where Faouzi (Faouzi Bensaidi) and his family are entertaining rich businessman Ahmed (Mohammed Bousbaa) in the hope of clinching a lucrative deal with him.

But when Faouzi’s daughter Sofia falls ill with severe stomach cramps, her doctor cousin Lena (Sarah Perles) examines her in the kitchen and finds out she is pregnant.

At that very moment, Sofia’s water breaks. Lena whisks her to a clinic and takes the help of a doctor friend to get around the law.

The movie is focused, staying all along with Sofia, following her when she hatches a selfish plan to get out of her sticky situation by forcing an innocent man to pay the price.

The film wins additional stars for the performances of the two lead actresses. Although Alemi has to look glum for the most part, she shines at the end, opening up a hidden facet of her character.

Perles is marvelous as a woman torn between the law and her cousin’s dilemma, and as a medical practitioner she even risks her budding career.

At the end, when the chilling truth comes out, she is shocked and distressed, but never gives up on her cousin.


Calling all cat lovers: Dubai art gallery spotlights strays

Artist Angel-O takes to the streets of Dubai to photograph stray cats. Angel-O/FN Designs
Updated 23 March 2019
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Calling all cat lovers: Dubai art gallery spotlights strays

DUBAI: FN Designs, a gallery in Dubai’s artsy Alserkal Avenue, is spotlighting street cats in a new exhibition by artist-photographer Angel-O until April 30.

The multidisciplinary art and design studio chose to highlight the Filipino photographer’s work in a bid to raise awareness about the situation of strays in the UAE.

The exhibition opened in March with a panel discussion titled “Catnip.” The artist was joined by Nour Fakher, a vet at Blue Oasis Clinic, and Sara Abdelal, a cat rescuer in Dubai.

The artist started his journey when his landlord enforced a strict no-pet policy. Angel-O took to the streets to photograph stray cats in order to remain close to the animals.

Artist Angel-O takes to the streets of Dubai to photograph stray cats. Angel-O/FN Designs

“Most of these photos are taken in different parts of Dubai, in the nooks and crannies of streets,” he said, referring to his collection of photographs, which were taken in 2014 but shown for the first time in this show.

 “I am so glad my artwork is able to help these cats. I’ve had people come up and enquire about the location of the photograph so they could go back and help the cat in the picture,” he said.

 “I’m really relieved that people find this collection… of mine moving.”

Cat rescuer Abdelal stressed the importance of the TNR method of treating strays — trapping, neutering and releasing them.

“While we are trying to help find a safe home or habitat for the existing cats on our streets, let’s prevent their number from increasing. These animals can’t speak to us, we need to find a way to understand and help them,” she said.  

The UAE government has made moves to reduce the number of street cats through newly mandated animal welfare regulations that were handed down by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in December.

A failure to properly care for animals, including dumping pets, is now punishable by law in the country.