Press review for Lady Kul el-Arab
Nisimazine

Lady Kul el-Arab

Achieving a dream shared by many teenagers the world over could cost a lot for Duah Fares. Lady Kul el-Arab by Ibtisam Mara’ana follows the outraged reaction within the Arab–Israeli community when this young girl from a small village in the Galilee region decides to compete in the Miss Israel contest.

The Druze culture which Duah belongs to is part of the Islamic movement, but is also influenced by Greek philosophies and Gnosticism. However, this relative liberalism does not go so far as to allow one of its followers to dress in a bathing suit on a live TV show. What for most western girls is just a garment is profanity for Duah’s religion.

At home, she has full support from her parents to pursue a career based on her natural good looks. The movie’s title is taken from a beauty contest for Arab-Israeli girls, one which our protagonist initially enters, although apparently it falls way below her ambitions of becoming an international model.

During the preparation process for the Lady Kul el-Arab pageant she meets fashion designer Jack Yaakob, who has a decisive role in strengthening her will and broadening her horizons. Determined to be part of the bigger, more prestigious Miss Israel beauty contest, the newly self-baptised ‘Angelina’ then has to choose between the respect of community values and her own dreams. We follow her choice, and its consequences. Not wanting to suffer any kind of retaliation, Angelina runs away from home, but the outcomes of her decision hurt her parents badly: her dad is put in prison, and the village intimidates her family.

Although the story is about Angelina, it’s her parents who show us the real extension of this conflict. Even though they are members and followers of this tradition and at first do not agree with their daughter’s decision, their unconditional love makes them fight for her dream, avoiding blaming her for their harsh situation. In fact, those who want to forbid her from making her own decisions in life are the ones to be blamed. The whole story becomes a national issue reaching the local TV news, with the Sheik Muaf Taif himself taking sides on the matter, pleading Angelina to return to her faith and traditions.

With all the ingredients of a good drama movie, Lady Kul el-Arab shows us up to what point we should fight for our dreams.

Arturo Mestanza


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