Women in Film: Divines

houda-benyamina-dechire-le-festival-de-cannesHouda Benyamina makes her feature film debut with Divines, the story of a young girl struggling to make a name for herself in the drug game. Dounia (Oulaya Amamra) is fed up with her life in the slums of France. She and her best friend, Maimouna (Déborah Lukumuena) go to school only to learn how to do menial jobs with menial wages. Dounia looks on with envy as the local drug dealer, Rebecca, seems to have it all. The girls decide to work for Rebecca, thinking it will give them a chance at the life they desire. But the stakes are higher for Dounia, who bears a legacy of shame having lived with the name “bastard” since birth. 

divines_1_copy-h_2016We soon find out that Dounia will stop at nothing to get what she wants. All the while, she struggles to find balance in her relationships with the people she cares for. The film is a sensitive, though at times disturbing, look at the lives of young women struggling to find themselves. The main characters’ spirit, love, and drive carry viewers through the ups and downs of the story. With Shakespearian plot twists and irony, Divines is a powerful achievement in cinema and definitely worth your time. The movie is now streaming on Netflix.