Divines (film)


Theatrical release poster
Directed by Uda Benyamina
Produced by Marc-Benoît Créancier
Written by
  • Romain Compingt
  • Uda Benyamina
  • Malik Rumeau
Starring Oulaya Amamra
Music by Demusmaker
Cinematography Julien Poupard
Edited by Loïc Lallemand
Vincent Tricon
Distributed by Diaphana Films
Release dates
  • 19 May 2016 (2016-05-19) (Cannes)
  • 31 August 2016 (2016-08-31) (France)
Running time
105 minutes
Country France
Language French
Budget $2.4 million[2]
Box office $1.3 million[3]

Divines is a 2016 French-Qatari drama film directed by Uda Benyamina. (In North America, the director's name is transliterated as Houda Benyamina.[4][5]) It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.[6][7] At Cannes, Uda Benyamina won the Caméra d'Or.[8] The film also was an official selection of the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery section.[4] It was released on Netflix worldwide (except in France), on 18 November 2016.[9]


Dounia is a teenage girl living in a shanty town on the outskirts of Paris with her mother. She and her best friend Maimouna hustle for money, shoplifting from supermarkets and then reselling their wares on the streets to their classmates.

The two girls have a secret hiding place in the catwalk of a local theatre where they observe dance auditions. Djigui, an untrained dancer, catches Dounia's eye. One day Maimouna dares Dounia to spit on him and she does, resulting in him trying to chase her down. Trying to follow Dounia he ends up slipping and she rescues him by pulling him up from the catwalk.

During school Dounia is expected to be trained as a receptionist, rebelling against her teacher she makes fun of her for having no money and then vows to earn more money than her teacher could ever dream of, before quitting school. One of the older students at school, Rebecca, shows the kids video from a trip abroad and says she wants to go and open a bar and enter the sex tourism industry which is constantly booming. Determined to be part of Rebecca's crew, Dounia observes her giving drugs to Samir and then follows him. Discovering where he hides his drugs, she steals them from him and brings them to Rebecca, telling her that she would do a better job as a dealer. Impressed, Rebecca agrees to let Dounia start working for her.

Rebecca gives Dounia and Maimouna a series of odd jobs which they successfully complete, working up the ranks from chores, to dealing drugs. Rebecca eventually confides in them that she wants to use Dounia as bait to sneak into the apartment of Reda, a rich man, to steal one hundred thousand euros off of him as he once told her where it was hidden in his apartment during a drug binge.

Dounia continues to hide her money in the theatre but when it is gone she confronts Djigui who refuses to give it back.

Dounia and Maimouna succeed in getting the mark to notice Dounia, however when it's time to leave the club they find Samir isn't where he said he would be. Going home Dounia finds Samir having sex with her mother. Enraged she goes to his home and burns his car. When the police show up she throws glass bottles at them leading her to be arrested.

Dounia goes to Djigui to get her money back in order to gain favour back from Rebecca. Djigui tells her he has been hired as the principle dancer in the show and gives her tickets to watch him perform. Instead of going to see him Dounia goes on a date with Reda. He takes her to his apartment and when he leaves to take a shower Dounia begins searching for his secret cache of money. She is discovered by Reda, who savagely beats her before attempting to rape her. Dounia fights back, knocking out Reda and then manages to locate the money. She leaves some of the money with her mother and hides some for Maimouna intending to leave on tour with Djigui. Before she can go she receives a message from Rebecca who is holding Maimouna hostage until Dounia returns. Dounia brings the money to Rebecca, but she notices that some of it is missing and in a rage, douses Dounia with gasoline and threatens to burn her. Before she can Samir realizes that the money is at her mother's home and leaves to go get it. Enraged, Dounia attacks Rebecca, and in the ensuing fight Rebecca throws a lighter and the room they are in catches fire with them locked inside. Maimouna is able to knock through a vent but is too large to go through. Rebecca escapes and Mainouna urges Dounia to leave as her face is covered in gas. The money they were fighting over burns behind them. The firemen arrive in time, but wait outside as they are afraid of being attacked in such a rough neighbourhood. Dounia begs them to save her friend, but they are unmoved and say they cannot go inside until the police arrive. By the time the riot police arrive it is too late and the crowd, furious that they waited so long, begin to attack them.


Awards and accolades

List of accolades
Award / Film Festival Date of Ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result
2016 Cannes Film Festival[10] 22 May 2016 Caméra d'Or Houda Benyamina Won
Munich Film Festival[11] July 2016 CineVision Award (best film by a new, non-German director) Houda Benyamina Won
Hamptons International Film Festival[12][13] 10 October 2016 HIFF Award for Best Narrative Feature Film Houda Benyamina Honorable Mention
60th London Film Festival[14] 16 October 2016 Sutherland Award (best first feature in the festival) Uda Benyamina, Oulaya Amamra Special commendation


  1. Catherine Bray (19 May 2016). "Cannes Film Review: 'Divines'". Variety.com. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  2. "A French tidal wave heads for the Directors' Fortnight". Cineuropa.
  3. JP. "Divines (2016)- JPBox-Office". Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  4. 1 2 "Divines [programme note]". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  5. Elsa Keslassy; John Hopewell (7 June 2016). "Netflix Snaps Up Camera d'Or Winner 'Divines,' Cannes-Competing 'Aquarius'". Variety. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
  6. "Fortnight 2016: The 48th Directors' Fortnight Selection". Quinzaine des Réalisateurs. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  7. Nancy Tartaglione (19 April 2016). "Cannes: Directors' Fortnight 2016 Lineup – Laura Poitras' 'Risk', Pablo Larrain's 'Neruda', Paul Schrader's 'Dog Eat Dog'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  8. "Cannes Film Festival Winners: Palme d'Or To Ken Loach's 'I, Daniel Blake'". Deadline. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  9. "Critically-Acclaimed Cannes Caméra d'Or Winner 'Divines' Premieres on Netflix Today". Shadow and Act. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 20 November 2016.
  10. Rebecca Ford; Rhonda Richford (22 May 2016). "Cannes: 'I, Daniel Blake' Wins the Palme d'Or". The Hollywood Reporter. The Camera d’Or, which honors the best first feature film, was awarded to Divines, a movie by Houda Benyamina that premiered in Directors’ Fortnight. Willem Dafoe presented the award.
  11. Leo Barraclough (3 July 2016). "Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Triumphs at Munich Film Festival". Variety.
  12. Joshua Terry (10 October 2016). "'Glory,' 'The Eagle Huntress' Named Award Winners at 2016 Hamptons Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 20 October 2016. Honorable mentions at the 24th annual festival, which ran Oct. 6-10, went to “Divines” directed by Houda Benyamina (Narrative Feature) and “Those Who Jump” directed by Estephan Wagner, Moritz Siebert and Abou Bakar Sidibé (Documentary Feature).
  13. Christine Sampson; Jennifer Landes (12 October 2016). "Film Festival Announces Winners for 2016". The East Hampton Star.
  14. "60th BFI London Film Festival announces 2016 awards winners" (Press release). BFI. 2016-10-17. Retrieved 2016-10-18. The jury also gave a special commendation to Uda Benyamina’s Divines for its standout female performance from Oulaya Amamra and for its great energy and veracity.

External links

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