Q&A with Mounia Meddour on March 12

Nedjma (Lyna Khoudri) is a university student during the Algerian Civil War. Although she’s studying French, her passion is fashion design: defying religious conservatism, she custom-makes dresses for her peers that are examples of individual expression. Attacks on civilians are on the rise from fundamentalist Islamist sects, and a shocking incident drives Nedjma to stage a unique protest: a fashion show centered around repurposing the haik, a traditional veil, into secular garments. Anchored by a remarkable naturalism and camaraderie among its lead actresses (especially from Khoudri and Shirine Boutella), Papicha—a highlight of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard section—tells an unflinching story of resistance and resilience, and marks an inspired, sometimes harrowing debut for Mounia Meddour. A DistribFilms release.