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Set in the 19th century against the breathtaking backdrop of Morocco's Atlas Mountains, Zaïna, Rider of the Atlas blends fable and adventure in a "couscous Western" that is certain to captivate both parents and kids. After the death of her mother, 11-year-old Zaïna (Aziza Nadir) doesn't know who to trust: the wealthy but dangerous overlord Omar (Simon Abkarian), who loved her mother but also caused her death, or the nomadic, horse-raising father who she has never met before. Chancing life with her real father Mustapha (Sami Bouajila), Zaïna joins his band of horsemen on a 20-day trek across the Atlas Mountains, as they take their prize thoroughbreds to compete in a famous race in Marrakech. But Omar, desperate to keep Zaïna for himself, chases the group, and he will stop at nothing to get the girl back. Full of life-or-death swordfights, a thrilling horse race, and stunning scenery, Zaïna, Rider of the Atlas is the story of a father and daughter's triumph over the odds in a fascinating fairytale world.
Film Information
Year: 2005
Length: 95 minutes
Language: French, Arabic
Country: France
Premiere: New York
Cast & Credits
Special Note

About the Director(s)
Born in 1965 in Hauts-de-Seine, just outside of Paris, director Bourlem Guerdjou began working as an actor but quickly found himself behind the camera. During the early eighties, he produced a handful of films and plays before turning to directing. He studied the craft intensely, and in 1986, he completed his first short film Ring, which was selected for the Cannes Film Festival and awarded prizes in Turin and Lyon. He went on to make two other shorts Un Jour d'enfance and Couleurs d'enfant, before directing his first feature Vivre au paradis about the life of an Algerian immigrant who brings his wife and children to France at the height of the Algerian War. This was a personal film for Guerdjou, who comes from a family of North African descent, so after its completion, he decided he needed a change of pace. Zaïna, which is based on the classic One Thousand and One Nights, is the result of this desire.


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