Divines (film)

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

Theatrical release poster
Directed byHouda Benyamina
Produced byMarc-Benoît Créancier
Written by
  • Romain Compingt
  • Houda Benyamina
  • Malik Rumeau
StarringOulaya Amamra
Déborah Lukumuena
Music byDemusmaker
CinematographyJulien Poupard
Edited byLoïc Lallemand
Vincent Tricon
Distributed byDiaphana Films
Release date
  • 19 May 2016 (2016-05-19) (Cannes)
  • 31 August 2016 (2016-08-31) (France)
Running time
105 minutes
Budget$2.4 million[2]
Box office$2.3 million[3]


Dounia is a teenage girl living in a Romani banlieue on the outskirts of Paris with her mother and aunt. 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. He ends up slipping and Dounia rescues him by pulling him up from the catwalk.

At school, Dounia is expected to be trained as a receptionist. She rebels against her teacher, ridiculing her for her lack of money and vowing to earn more money than her teacher could ever dream of. Rebecca, a local drug dealer, shows the kids video from a trip to Thailand and plans to move there for the growing sex tourism. Determined to be part of Rebecca's gang, Dounia observes her giving drugs to a dealer, Samir. She steals the drugs from a hiding spot 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 confides in the two that a rich man, Reda, keeps 100,000 euros in his apartment, and plans for Dounia to steal it. Dounia continues to hide her money in the theatre but when it is gone she confronts Djigui, who refuses to give it back.

Samir drives Dounia and Maimouna go to a nightclub and succeed in getting the mark to notice Dounia. When they leave, they find that Samir has left; when she gets home, Dounia finds Samir having sex with her mother. She scolds her mother, then burns Samir's mother's car. When the firefighters show up Dounia throws glass bottles at them and starts a riot, leading her to be arrested. At the station, Maimouna and Dounia are loudly berated by Maimouna's devout Muslim parents and an angry Rebecca scolds Dounia for getting in trouble with the police.

Dounia goes to Djigui to get her money back in order to gain back Rebecca's favor. Djigui tells her he has been hired as the principal dancer in the show and gives her tickets to watch him perform, along with the money. Instead of going to see him, Dounia goes with Reda to a club. 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 a dance 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 douses Dounia with gasoline, threatening 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 before she throws a lighter and the room they are in catches fire with them locked inside. Maimouna is able to open a vent but is unable to go through. Rebecca escapes and Maimouna urges Dounia to leave as her face is covered in gasoline. The money they were fighting over burns behind them. The firemen arrive in time, but wait outside as they are not allowed to fight fires in the neighbourhood anymore without the presence of riot police. Dounia begs them to save her friend, but they are unmoved, and the building explodes, killing Maimouna. An inconsolable Dounia watches a riot unfold as the police arrive.


  • Oulaya Amamra as Dounia
  • Déborah Lukumuena as Maimouna
  • Kévin Mischel as Djigui
  • Jisca Kalvanda as Rebecca
  • Yasin Houicha as Samir
  • Majdouline Idrissi as Myriam
  • Mounir Margoum as Cassandra
  • Farid Larbi as Reda

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
César Awards[11] 24 February 2017 Best Film Marc-Benoît Créancier Nominated
Best Director Houda Benyamina Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Déborah Lukumuena Won
Most Promising Actress Oulaya Amamra Won
Best Original Screenplay Romain Compingt, Houda Benyamina and Malik Rumeau Nominated
Best Editing Loïc Lallemand and Vincent Tricon Nominated
Best First Feature Film Houda Benyamina Won
Munich Film Festival[12] July 2016 CineVision Award (best film by a new, non-German director) Houda Benyamina Won
Globes de Cristal Award 30 January 2017 Best Film Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[13] 8 January 2017 Best Foreign Language Film Nominated
Hamptons International Film Festival[14][15] 10 October 2016 HIFF Award for Best Narrative Feature Film Houda Benyamina Honorable Mention
60th London Film Festival[16] 16 October 2016 Sutherland Award (best first feature in the festival) Uda Benyamina, Oulaya Amamra Special commendation
Lumières Awards[17] 30 January 2017 Most Promising Actress Oulaya Amamra Won
Déborah Lukumuena Won
Best First Film Won


  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. "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. Archived from the original on 20 April 2016. 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. "PALMARÈS 2017 - 42 ÈME CÉRÉMONIE DES CÉSAR". Académie des Arts et Techniques du Cinéma. 24 February 2017. Archived from the original on 23 February 2019. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  12. Leo Barraclough (3 July 2016). "Asghar Farhadi's 'The Salesman' Triumphs at Munich Film Festival". Variety.
  13. "Golden Globes 2017: The Complete List of Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  14. 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).
  15. Christine Sampson; Jennifer Landes (12 October 2016). "Film Festival Announces Winners for 2016". The East Hampton Star. Archived from the original on 20 October 2016. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  16. "60th BFI London Film Festival announces 2016 awards winners" (Press release). BFI. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2016. 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.
  17. "Lumiere Awards: 'Elle,' 'My Life as a Zucchini' Take Top Prizes". The Hollywood Reporter. 30 January 2017.
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