Screened as part of NZIFF 2021

Honey Cigar 2020

Cigare au miel

Directed by Kamir Aïnouz Becoming

A young French-Algerian woman, Selma, navigates emerging sexual desires under the constraints of her family’s patriarchal notions of virginity, intimacy and womanhood in this empowering coming-of-age drama.

Nov 12

Light House Cuba

Nov 13

Penthouse Cinema

Nov 21

Light House Cuba

France In French with English subtitles
100 minutes DCP

Director

Cast

Zoé Adjani
,
Amira Casar
,
Lyès Salem

Producers

Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar
,
Christine Rouxel

Screenplay

Kamir Aïnouz
,
Marc Syrigas

Cinematography

Jeanne Lapoirie

Editors

Albertine Lastera
,
Sarah Zaanoun

Music

Julie Roué

Festivals

Venice 2020

Elsewhere

Borrowing from aspects of her own life as a French-Algerian woman growing up in Paris, director and writer Kamir Aïnouz crafts a striking drama about familial expectation and sexual awakening.

Honey Cigar – Aïnouz’ directorial debut – is an artful exploration of duality. Selma (Zoé Adjani) is at odds with her two cultural identities – torn between embodying the French culture of her peers and upholding the Algerian traditions of her family. Selma even describes herself as ‘double’ when questioned (for the first of many times) about her identity. Aïnouz parallels this struggle for independence with the turbulent political climate of the 1993 Algerian Civil War. While her homeland grapples with resistance to radicalisation, she too desires to emancipate herself from societal expectations.

When she starts at a new university, Selma seeks acceptance from her sexually-experienced classmates and discovers how liberating – yet disempowering – relationships can be. Aïnouz brings her lived experiences to the screen particularly authentically in these moments, in all their amusement, cringe and rage: the constant demand on Selma to defend her cultural authenticity will ring true for any child of immigrants.

Zoé Adjani’s breathtaking performance remains relatable, skillfully transporting audiences to their own adolescences. Lyès Salem and Amira Casar (Call Me by Your Name NZIFF 2017) in their roles as Selma’s mère and père are wonderfully subtle, skillfully supporting Adjani’s central role. — Starsha Samarasinghe