Produced by Farida Benlyazid, Silvia Vosser, Hassan Daldoul.
Directed, written by Farida Benlyazid. Camera (color), Serge Palatsi; editor, Kahena Attia; music, Mohamed Cherraf. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (market), May 14, 1999. Original title: Keid Ensa. Running time: 90 MIN.
With: Samira Akariou, Rachid El Ouali, Fatma Bensaidane; Abderrahim Bayga, Amina Alaoui, Hammadi Amor, Mohamed Razine.
In this brightly painted screen adaptation of an old Andalusian folk tale, Moroccan helmer Farida Benlyazid (“A Door on Heaven”) puts a strong feminist spin on the story of a spoiled merchant’s daughter who falls in love with a prince. Her extremely simple storytelling is full of charm and well suited to the traditional material. This should be an attractive title for children, who will appreciate the gaudy exoticism of an Arabian Nights’ Morocco, with its bubbling fountains and perfumed gardens.
Pretty Lalla Aicha (the bright, sassy Samira Akariou), who has been taught by her father to read and write, attracts the attention of the handsome Sultan’s son (Rachid El Ouali) next door. Refusing to let him make fun of her, she shaves off his beard while he’s asleep. He refuses to believe women are intelligent, and after he makes her one of his many wives, he locks her in a cellar for three years to humble her. Stubborn and stout-hearted Lalla Aicha outwits him stupendously. A bit of local music and dancing adds to tons of atmosphere created by ancient palaces, antique costumes and desert tents.