Algeria, 1997: Not shunning violence, FIS extremists have been trying to turn the country into a strict Islamic state for many years. They target women in particular: they are harshly disciplined if they are not fully covered while out in the street. This is bad news for 18-year-old student Nedjima from Algiers, who dreams of becoming a fashion designer and is already selling her sexy outfits to Algerian girls in trendy nightclubs. She is determined not to give in to the fundamentalists, and she even decides to organize a fashion show in protest against them.
Director Mounia Meddour's already highly acclaimed debut feature would have been the first 2020 submission for the International Feature Film Oscar, but then the Algerian government cancelled the national release of the film last September. No reason was offered for the cancellation. The general rule is: No release, no Oscar submission, but the Academy has made an exception.