Houda Benyamina

Houda Benyamina – Divines (2016) (HD)

With staggering self-assurance and disarming creativity, director Houda Benyamina bursts onto our screens with the frenetic story of Dounia, a teenage girl living in a crime-fuelled suburb on the outskirts of Paris. Along with her best friend Maimouna, the budding entrepreneur vies for the attention of local dealer Rebecca, whilst simultaneously embarking on a fraught emotional relationship with a handsome male dancer who has caught her eye. But as Dounia’s work and personal lives rapidly escalate, her control begins to slip and she soon finds herself dangerously out of her depth. A neat feminist twist on the typically male-centric terrain of the gangster thriller, this imaginatively directed and sharply-performed drama signals the arrival of some major new talents. In its depiction of female friendships and power dynamics, the film makes for an interesting companion piece to Céline Sciamma’s Girlhood, while as a vibrant explosion of youthful energy and imagination, it stands defiantly on its own.

— BFI Read More »

Houda Benyamina – Divines (2016)

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A street teenager from a dysfunctional family from a banlieue (HLMs) in Paris comes across a young dancer who turns her life upside down.

Isabel Stevens (Sight & Sound) wrote:
From the opening credits – a grainy breakneck tour of the lives of two teenage girls who lark about, posing and dancing via vertical-aspect cameraphone footage, I had a suspicion we were onto something special. Then comes the unusual opener: a hazy, abstract shot. Gradually, the interior of a mosque comes into focus. The smaller of the two girls, who only seconds ago stared us down and asked “You looking at me?” with full Taxi Driver-esque bravado, is outside trying to get her praying friend’s attention through a grate in the wall. Read More »