How many stories can you tell at once

In the maddeningly wild crush of a Cairo avenue, a young girl is riding a horse. It’s a jolting image of freedom and joy and risking danger. It’s the beginning to el Banat Dol (These girls), a compelling and fascinating documentary by Egyptian film maker Tahani Rached. The tale is one of terrible heartbreak about young girls living on Cairo’s streets. It could be anywhere though it is very Egyptian: the way people support one another, and how one lives outside the law but believes thoroughly in what life and religion should be. The first look at the movie matters because it is the clue to what follows. So, too, the music drives the formula. There is despair here, the movie says, but also youthful energy, still smoldering dreams and a demand for respect. Asked about the movie’s theme at a recent showing in Cairo, Rached said she didn’t want to find any officials to explain why girls live such lives without help. That, she said, is another story.


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