Published On: Tue, May 26th, 2015

New Movie Dégradé Depicts Life in Gaza Through Women’s Eyes

The film is about 13 Palestinian women trapped in a beauty salon in the Gaza Strip


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Dégradé is a new Palestinian film which depicts the conflict in Gaza under Hamas terrorist rule through the eyes of 13 women who get trapped in a beauty salon one day.

The directorial debut from win brothers Tarzan and Arab Nasser premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this month.

On a hot summer’s day Christine’s beauty salon is filled with female clients including a bride-to-be, a pregnant woman, a bitter divorcée, a devout woman and a pill-popping addict. But their day of leisure is disrupted when gunfire breaks out across the street. A gangland family has stolen the lioness from Gaza’s only zoo, and Hamas has decided it’s time to settle old scores. Stuck in the salon, with the prospect of death drawing ever nearer, the women unravel.


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The plot is based on a true story. As Tarzan explained, “There was a powerful family that had a lion from the zoo, and the government attacked this family to take it. When Hamas came to power in 2006, they looked to take out all of the various clans to assert their control, looking for reasons each time.”

The brothers said at a press conference, “Women in Gaza are like all other women in the world, although their suffering is very unique. We need women in order to bring about change in Gaza. They are our heroes because despite the ongoing war, they represent life.

“The movie includes battles outside the beauty salon, but inside they continue with their love stories. They want to remain beautiful, hoping for a date or marriage. While people are shooting at each other on the street, putting on lipstick becomes an act of protest: Holding on to humanity no matter the circumstances, keeping hope alive.”

The Hollywood Reporter was not impressed. It wrote that, “Apart from this rather sophisticated coiffeur reference, the filmmakers seem to know little about what women do at the hairdressers’. This is another film that comes dangerously close to failing the Bechdel test, even though there are 13 women locked in a room who do nothing but talk to each other and on their cell phones.”

“Narrative clarity is an optional here, ” it added and “Eric Devin’s lighting does no favors to any of the actresses, or to viewers forced to stare at the cramped, dark salon for over an hour.”

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