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A Door to the Sky



A young Moroccan woman who returns from Paris to her ancient hometown of Fez to see her dying father is unexpectedly pulled back toward Islam. "Am I in the 15th century or the 20th?" Nadia writes her French boyfriend, but when he visits she no longer wants to see him. Farida Ben Lyazid's script evenhandedly acknowledges the competing influences on Nadia and the other characters, establishing that their lives are a mix of external forces and their own choices. Some may be surprised by the film's blend of feminism and Islam: Nadia saves the family home by turning it into a traditional Islamic environment, but one serving homeless and battered women. This is Ben Lyazid's first feature as director, and her imagery isn't as accomplished as her script. But A Door to the Sky includes several stunning aerial views of Fez, whose mix of distant sounds--calls to prayer and Islamic chants--powerfully conveys the pull of tradition. And Ben Lyazid makes skilled use of the family home's ornate interiors and of the city's traditional architecture. Neither fundamentalist nor anti-Islam, the film allows its characters choices, and admits both individual passions and the possibility of accepting tradition. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, June 2, 8:00, Thursday, June 8, 6:00, 443-3737.

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