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Zaina - Königen der Pferde (Zaina: Rider of the Atlas, Zaina, cavalière de l'Atlas)

This is an exciting but rough tale of a girl and a famous Moroccan horse race which delves into an exotic and culturally interesting Moroccan world. Zaina’s (Aziza Nadir) story is as difficult and often as treacherous as the surroundings in which she travels in order to find the answers that she seeks. Crossing the forbidden desert mountains of the Moroccan Atlas Ridge, Zaina, who’s dealing with the death of her mother, is faced with a difficult dilemma. Should she go with her real father who had early on abandoned her and her mother, or should she go with her stepfather, who is responsible for her mother’s death? It appears that these are her only choices in this culture. Zaina begins this adventurous journey accompanying her father to the famous horse race in Morocco and is confronted with horse thieves, greed and murder. She is not the perfect heroine since she sets fire to the horse stable of her stepfather and leaves him to die in it. In her loneliness she bonds with her father’s horse Zingal and is given the opportunity to run the race completely forbidden to women. There is a wonderful surprise and unexpected ending to this story. Although this movie is recommended for eight-year olds, it has its dark and realistic moments that make it difficult for younger children to see or really understand it. This was the first film at the Hamburg Children’s Film Festival which was completely sold out and it also had the rare privilege to be picked up by a distributor and make it to the main circuit. It also won the Audience Award at Locarno International Film Festival 2005. Interesting info: The actress Aziza Nadir who comes from Paris had never ridden a horse and had to spend months in Morocco to learn to ride in this race. For age 10 and above is my recommendation. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)


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The Death of Stalin (2017)

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