The Day Nina Simone Stopped Singing
This critically acclaimed self-portrait tells the true story of a liberated young woman growing up in war-torn Beirut.
Darina Al-Joundi was born in Lebanon in 1968 to a Shiite Lebanese mother and a secular Syrian father. Her father, a political refugee and journalist, was an anarchist and wanted his three daughters to be raised free of religious constraints and dogmatism. He was known to have said that “the day when churches and mosques will be turned into brothels, we will finally have some peace.” From her first glass of Bordeaux at age 8 to A Clockwork Orange, Baudelaire, and Maïakovski, his influence brings her to defy all taboos—religious, political, and sexual. Sent to a French Catholic school as a child, Darina will learn with the outbreak of war in 1975 that she is in fact Muslim.
For Darina, wartime Beirut was a city of excess and illusion. As the bombs fell, she defied death in nightclubs, with drugs, and relentless sex, fueling the resentment of men who won’t forgive her for breaking the rules. When he dies at the end of the war, she remembers his last wishes and instead of playing the traditional suras of the Koran during the funeral, she blasts his favourite song, “Sinnerman,” by Nina Simone on the stereo. The men present beat her till she falls unconscious and then take her to an asylum.
Darina Al-Joundi began her acting career at age 8 with Lebanese television. She left Beirut at 30 for Paris, where she wrote and performed Le jour où Nina Simone a cessé de chanter for the theater. The play caused a sensation at the Avignon festival, where it was hailed by the critics. Her latest movie, Un homme perdu, by Daniel Arbid, was presented at the Director’s Fortnight of the 2007 Cannes Festival.
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Mohamed Kacimi is an Algerian playwright and novelist. His writings include 1962 (Actes Sud, 1989), la Confession d’Abraham (Gallimard, 2001), and Terre sainte (L’Avant-Scène, 2007).
Darina Al-Joundi :