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Spend a year in the life of Fatima, a strong, independent Moroccan mother of two, who tries to understand the modern culture of Lyon, France through the eyes of her two teenage daughters.

Fatima (the engaging Soria Zeroual in her debut role) may be able to work hard on her feet for 16 hours a day, but she hits a wall when talking about her youngest daughter, Souad (Kenza Noah Aïche), at a parent-teacher conference. Her limited knowledge of French—and at times her stubbornness—forces her unintentionally to nod her head in agreement as a teacher berates Souad. Director Philippe Falcon pokes gentle humor at the confusion of assimilation with these vignettes that Fatima experiences, while also revealing the harsh realities of life as an immigrant in France. In Fatima’s eyes, Souad seems to abandon her ethnic heritage as she tries to assimilate into French culture. It is through her eldest daughter, Nesrine, that she finds hope for the future of the family. Willing to take on a growing debt, Fatima finds meaning in her laborious schedule in the hopes that it leads to Nesrine becoming a doctor. But the pressure on Nesrine also comes with a price. A sleeper-hit at this year’s Director’s Fortnight at Cannes, Fatima, is a quiet, reserved yet unexpectedly powerful drama that isn’t afraid to make light of the realities immigrants face in our world.

DIRECTOR: Philippe Faucon
CAST: Soria Zeroual, Zita Hanrot, Kenza Noah Aïche
LANGUAGE: French, Algerian
YEAR: 2015
LENGTH: 79 min
Monday, October 26

12:50pm EDT

Wednesday, October 28

2:40pm EDT