In 1995, in the midst of the Algerian Civil War, Fatima (Palestinian superstar Hiam Abbas), a middle-aged masseuse runs a hammam where the local women meet to cleanse their bodies and souls.
During women-only hour, they can bare themselves completely, from their garments as well as the societal restrictions set upon them. Mothers, daughters, rebels and religious fanatics scrub, shower and talk. No topic is off limits. Love, sex, religion and politics are discussed and ideologies clash. But as they wash their pains away, will this safe haven protect them from the outside world? As bombs keep falling, we learn the harsh truth of a woman's role in Algeria.
Rayhana's eye-opening film, based on her theatre play of the same name, is a brave and extraordinary work of art that breaks many taboos and brings to the fore the voices of Algerian women struggling under patriarchal oppression. A bold directorial debut, I Still Hide to Smoke centres the female gaze, and shows a variety of female perspectives.
Followed by a Q&A with Director, Rayhana.