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“A feminist portrait, Papicha seduces especially for its energy, its freshness and the charisma of its lead character.” – Cineuropa

Nedjma and her best friend Wassila are studying French at Algiers University. At night, they sneak out of their college dorm to go clubbing in fabulous outfits made by Nedjma, which she sells to other ‘papichas’ – pretty young girls. But it’s the 1990s, which would become known as Algeria’s ‘black decade’ for a violent civil war that led to religious fundamentalism. Moral pressure increases on the free-spirited Nedjma: from armed soldiers, black-robed strangers and finally, heartbreakingly, from her friends and family.

Disobeying a ban on Friday gatherings of women, Nedjma and her friends stage a fashion show based on the haik, the traditional Maghreb women’s robe. Respectful of history yet subversively optimistic, it’s the perfect metaphor for Mounia Meddour’s debut film, which was inspired by her own experiences as a student. Funny and joyous, even in its rage, Papicha celebrates the beauty and expressive solidarity of women’s clothes – so often the means by which society seeks to control women’s behaviour.

“Anger and pride simmer and crackle through … this feisty, unapologetic film.” – Screen Daily