Fatima: Tale of Displacement and Alienation of Mother and Two Teenage Daughters

FATIMA, directed by Philippe Faucon, world premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Fest (in the prestigious Director’s Fortnight series), and went on to win multiple César Awards, Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Most Promising Actress for newcomer Zita Hanrot.

Kino Lorber will present the US theatrical release of FATIMA at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on August 26, and at Laemmle Royal in Los Angeles on September 16, followed by a national rollout.

A slight feminist streak runs through FATIMA, which is loosely based on Fatima Elayoubi’s “Prayer to the Moon,” a collection of poems and other pieces of writing.

This personal film reflects the authentic alienation of a woman who feels that she doesn’t fully belong in her newly adopted land, and whose children have pulled away from her and their original culture.

Soria Zeroual plays the titular role, a divorced woman holding several menial jobs while trying to raise her two teenage daughters. She emigrated from North Africa to France at 20, but several years later, she still struggles to speak French to communicate with her own daughters Nesrine (Zita Hanrot) and Souad (Kenza-Noah Aïche), whose lives she is devoted to improving.

Nesrine is trying to strike a balance between cramming for her pre-med exams and dating, while the younger and more rebellious Souad is testing her limits and her mother’s patience by acting out.

Facing veiled racism, suspicion, awkwardness, and shame on a daily basis, Fatima discovers that the perfect outlet for her frustrations is also the best way to tell her daughters how she really feels.

The gifted director, Philippe Faucon, has said: “My grandparents didn’t speak French, and neither did my mother when she was a child. They were “the invisible ones” in the society they lived in. Some of Fatima’s manners remind me of them. She is like those women, only partly schooled, who had to emigrate out of vital necessity, to come and live in a country whose language and codes were completely unknown to them. In France, they gave birth to children and raised them, even though sometimes they were kept apart by the language or by different customs and points of reference. For all these reasons, regardless of the things they didn’t know or master, these women have developed major resources, drawn from fierce courage and obstinacy.

For the role of Fatima I chose a non-professional actress, Soria Zéroual, from Lyon; we both were a bit anxious before the first day of the shooting. Today I know it was the right choice: I find her performance really convincing. Fatima’s daughters, who are 15 and 18, are played by young women who want to become actresses, but who haven’t played many parts yet.”