Writer/director Ayten Amin’s captivating second feature explores the entangled contradictions of living up to the expectations of God and family while balancing the desire for an Insta-worthy life in modern Egypt.
Screened as part of NZIFF 2021
An intimate portrait of a young Egyptian woman trying to find her place in the world – both temporal and digital – Ayten Amin’s Souad is a delicately played triptych that deftly navigates the difficulty of growing up in a traditionalist environment in the age of social media.
When we meet Souad (Bassant Ahmed), it is clear she is living two distinct lives – one as a dutiful daughter, and another as a quick talking, self-assured firecracker. While socialising with friends – who are all on their phones comparing photos – we start to see how delicately Souad’s two worlds are hanging in the balance. Distant from her peers and bored with the rigidity of her working-class home, she spends her nights participating in the fantasy of her dramatic on-again, off-again relationship with the dark, handsome content creator Ahmed (Hussein Ghanem).
As cracks begin to erode the façade of Souad’s curated online life, her real relationships crumble as well, leaving her adrift to face the endless monotony of her conservative family. It’s not long before her vivacious spirit is suffocated, and the contradictions of a conservative God-fearing life clash with constant online access to the very things she is meant to abstain from – and has little to no experience with.
Amin’s heartfelt storytelling is complemented by Maged Nader’s intimate and occasionally confrontational documentary style camerawork that pulls us into a world that we may, at times, recognise ourselves in. More of a call to kindness than a morality tale, Souad softly reminds us of the universal desire for real connection. — Kailey Carruthers