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Ripped From the Headlines?

16 Nov, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Lila Says

Lila Says resonates with the recent violent culture clash between police and Muslim youth in France. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) Nov. 29 releases the film on $29.98 DVD.

The controversial 2004 French film from Lebanese director Ziad Doueiri (West Beirut) is about the power and consequences of lust, desire and social unrest in an economically depressed Muslim neighborhood in Marseilles.

Based on a bestselling first-person narrative (Lila Dit ?a), the film revolves around Chimo (Mohammed Khouas), a 19-year-old Arab boy, unemployed and with little else to do with his peers than steal, goof off and watch life pass by.

Enter Lila (Vahina Giocante), a seductive blonde, wise and treacherous beyond her 16 years. Lila's sexually charged innuendo both disarms and excites Chimo and creates a backlash in the community.

For 25-year-old Giocante, melding into the character of Lila wasn't as challenging as she had expected.

“Maybe it's because I'm at a magical period in my life where I still feel really close to my adolescence while still experiencing love and the sexual side of being a woman,” Giocante said in production notes.

She said the film should be important to teens because many see sex as a complicated issue.

“This film presents sensuality with very explicit and explanatory words but also with a certain lightness, poetry and humor,” she said.

Controversy aside, Sony believes the title underscores the market for foreign and independent films.

“We are proud to release product in this category that is both thought-provoking and entertaining,” said Tana Evans, executive director of marketing for SPHE. “We hope to make this film even more accessible to consumers by making it available in new markets that weren't covered with the theatrical release.”

The 89-minute film is in French with English subtitles.

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