NOS reporter Daisy Mohr from Beirut:
In the Arab world, controversy existed before Totally strangers It looks well and good. The fact that critics are particularly preoccupied with him in Egypt may reflect the period of the conservative patriarchal state. There is a lot to do about women’s social freedoms: the complex developments that continue to reverberate from the #metoo movement in Egypt. The lingerie scene in the film was widely discussed and criticized.
And the amount of anti-gay reaction isn’t immediately surprising. It is clear that not everyone in the Arab world is ready for a movie with these kinds of topics and dialogues. There is often a generational difference: young people in many Arab countries believe that there is much that is both possible and permitted. But usually this happens in secret and parents do not know anything about it.
Some of the actors are Lebanese and the film is set in Lebanon, a country where there are more freedoms compared to the rest of the region. Here in Beirut I hear a lot of people saying that the film depicts everyday reality very well and that this reality is perhaps stronger than it is in the film. It is hypocritical to pretend that these are Western issues that play no role in the Arab world at all. Therefore, the film was well received by many.
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