Q: Is the cabaret and belly dancing an excuse to tell the story of a woman's independence in an Arab society in general?
Raja Amari: I have always wanted to make a film revolving around belly dancing. I trained for many years as a belly dancer at the Conservatoire de Tunis (Academic Dance Institute in Tunis).
I also grew up watching the Golden Age Egyptian musicals from the 40's & 50's that are still played today on TV. My mother and I loved the well-known belly dancer Samia Gamal and the singer Farid El Atrache.
Q:Had you ever been in a cabaret night-club before the shoot?
I had heard about them. However in Tunisia, as in every Arabic country, no decent woman has their place in such a "depraved" milieu. I went there for the first time on location with the producer, the director of photography and the main actress, Hiam Abbass.
The first time we walked in, all conversations stopped and people looked at us in silence, but once the first moment of surprise passed, things went back to normal. It is not an aggressive environment. They were all very welcoming. It actually turned out to be quite funny. One night, as I was walking out the door of my house, my father asked me where I was going. I replied "to the night-club" to which he answered "work hard, my daughter!"
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