A Door to the Sky, dir. Farida Benlyazid, Morocco 1985, 107 min., Arabic with English subtitles, 15
The first feature from Moroccan director Farida Benlyazid is a beautifully told story that combines spirituality with social and economic concerns to interrogate the power of return and rediscovery. The 1989 film was unavailable for years to audiences in Morocco. Following a restoration made possible by the University of Exeter, the Centre Cinématographique Marocain (CCM) and Dragon DI, the film was donated to the CCM to guarantee the people it represents can access it – and now screens at the ICA as part of Women’s Stories from the Global South (& To Whom They Belong)
Nadia (Zakia Tahri), a Moroccan émigré living in Paris, returns to Fes to say goodbye to her dying father. At the funeral, she hears a voice chanting the Qu’ran and develops a friendship with the woman (Chaabia Laadraoui) singing it. As their friendship grows, Nadia is inspired to turn the house she has inherited from her father into a shelter for Muslim women.