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Cairo Exit

Yearning to be as free as she feels when motorbiking the dusty back streets of Cairo with her Muslim boyfriend Tarek, 18-year-old Amal is torn between absconding to Italy illegally by boat with her beloved, or staying in Egypt with her Coptic Orthodox Christian family. Amal cannot bear to consider the future she faces as a poor woman in Egypt, reflected in the lives of her sister and best friend: one makes grave sacrifices so her son can have a better life, while the other prepares for a surgery to feign her virginity so she can enter into a loveless marriage to an older, wealthy foreigner. But even as Amal actively seeks out opportunities for self-sufficiency, it is ultimately fate that will determine her path.

Director Hesham Issawi’s sophomore effort, co-written with Amal Afify, offers a rare, insider portrait of Cairo’s working people from the perspectives of four young women struggling to carve out a better future. –Roya Rastegar [Synopsis courtesy of The Tribeca Film Festival]