One day in the life of Soad, who lives with her mother and bed-ridden father on the outskirts of Cairo. While bright sunlight and the sounds of the city can be made out behind the half-closed shutters, everything in the flat exudes the smell of old age, sickness and stagnation. Her mother works nights in a hospital and has barely any energy to spare during the day. Soad too is no longer young, having resigned herself to caring for her incapacitated father and putting her own life on hold. The camera patiently follows her movements and daily activities that have become routine, capturing her frustration as well as moments of great tenderness.
Hala Lotfy’s impressive debut focuses on the relationship between light and shadow, within and without, life and death. Coming Forth by Day, the idea of emerging into light, is the literal translation of the title of the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. Soad’s longing is palpably directed outside. But when she leaves the flat in the evening and wanders alone through Cairo by night, it becomes clear just how far she has already distanced herself from her own needs. And yet at the end of the night begins a new day that may still bring change.