Lila Says

Institute History

  • 2005 Sundance Film Festival


Lila Says is a breathtaking second feature by the multitalented, Lebanese-born Ziad Doueiri. But it is also a remarkable vehicle for an amazing young actress, Vahina Giocante. Giocante radiates on the screen, her blonde hair catching the light, her doe eyes expressive, sensuality burning just under the cool surface.

Lila is new to the poor, mostly Arab neighborhood, but she does not go unnoticed by the boys of the quarter. Especially attentive are two unlikely friends and rivals: the sweet and literary Chimo and the headstrong thug Mouloud. Lila dares to meet the eye of sensitive young Chimo. She begins a flirtation, which leads to seduction and quickly takes them past the boundaries of moral and cultural mores. Soon Lila and Chimo have crossed, as if innocently, into the realms of the forbidden.

For Lila Says, Doueiri fashions a nuanced cinematic language to capture the earthy desires of youth. Doueiri shows a unique understanding of Lila—in her he has found a character that shatters commonplace notions of the power of the adolescent girl, not only in a community like the one Lila inhabits but in a society where women must also regularly bear the burdens of class and race.

— John Cooper

Screening Details

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