DUBAI: Lyna Khoudri is to star in the new drama film “Houria” by French-Algerian director Mounia Meddour, a project reuniting the pair following the award-winning movie “Papicha.”
In “Houria,” the rising French-Algerian actress takes on the role of a gifted ballerina who after experiencing trauma loses her ability to speak, communicating only in sign language — which Khoudri revealed she spent a year learning — throughout most of the film.
She recently told AnOther magazine: “In ‘Houria,’ I play a ballet dancer who loses the ability to speak. It was a big challenge because I had to express myself without words for the first time — I only speak for the first 20 minutes of the film. I spent a year preparing, taking dancing lessons, and learning sign language.”
The actress also revealed how watching American dancer Maddie Ziegler — known for her cameos in Australian singer and songwriter Sia’s music videos — helped her prepare for the role.
Khoudri said: “Before shooting, Mounia sent me the video of Sia’s 2016 single ‘The Greatest,’ featuring the dancer Maddie Ziegler, as a starting point. I watched it maybe 100 times. It was the key to unlocking my character because she’s dancing and at the same time it feels like she’s speaking with just her body. It’s so powerful.”
Meddour’s feature debut “Papicha” made history in France by becoming the French box office’s most successful African movie directed by a woman and won the Cesar award for best film. For her role in the flick, Khoudri took the Orizzonti prize for best actress at the 74th Venice Film Festival and was nominated in the Cesar Awards’ most promising actress category.
Since her screen debut, Khoudri has gone on to become a rising star to watch. She recently landed a major role in Wes Anderson’s 2021 comedy “The French Dispatch,” and is soon to appear in the new two-part adaptation of “The Three Musketeers.”
In addition, she will also be in “Novembre,” a Cedric Jimenez-directed thriller about the French anti-terrorism services during the 2015 Paris attacks.