Kiss Me Not on the Eyes (Dunia) (2006)

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The graceful curve of a woman's neck. The seductive jangle of bent gold bracelets sliding onto an arm. Welcome to the world of Dunia, a student of poetry and belly dancing, whose artistic expression is inhibited because she cannot experience desire. Mentored by the ardent public intellectual Dr. Beshir (played by Egyptian superstar singer Mohammad Mounir), Dunia begins an all-consuming search for ecstasy in poetry, dance, and music-taking us into the world of women in a society that both fetishizes and oppresses female sexuality. Ultimately, Dunia must confront the traditions that have destroyed her capacity for pleasure before she can experience it. This film tackles taboos with an honesty and subtlety seldom seen in contemporary Arab cinema. The female body becomes the nexus of cultural debates raging in Cairo, whether it is being celebrated in dance or poetry, or mutilated through genital excision. That the filmmaker is a woman, a rarity in the Middle East, makes it even more extraordinary. Writer/director Jocelyne Saab deftly evokes the flavor of Egypt, where crowded bazaars pulse with the rhythms of tabla (drum) and heated political argument alike. Saab sets rich imagery-by turns dreamy and earthy, but always evocative-to an intoxicating soundtrack (featuring Mounir and Natacha Atlas) which, like Egypt, mixes up old and new, East and West, to produce a sexy, combustible ride.-- (C) Sundance Film Festival

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