Film
April 28, 2021

Cinema Akil Screening: Lift Like A Girl

April 28, 2021 | Cinema Akil

An observational documentary diving into the world of weightlifting in Egypt.

Starts 8:00 PM

Ends 10:00 PM

Venue Cinema Akil

Warehouse 68

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For over 20 years, Captain Ramadan coached world-class weightlifters in Alexandria, Egypt. A larger-than-life character in his own right, Ramadan led his daughter, one of Egypt’s most famous athletes, Nahla Ramadan, to become a world champion, and trained Abeer Abdel Rahman, the first Arab woman to become a two-time Olympic medalist.

Mayye Zayed’s observational documentary dives into the training of Ramadan’s new protégé: the determined Zebiba (which means “raisin”), who dreams of lifting on the level of Captain’s past stars. Shot over four years, starting when Zebiba is 14 years old, Lift Like a Girl is an intimate journey into the inner life of an aspiring athlete. Filmed largely at Ramadan’s outdoor gym and at weightlifting competitions, it captures feats of astonishing athleticism. But it’s not just about muscle mass à la Pumping Iron, as Zayed explores the complex bond between Zebiba and her Captain — a bond that is frequently unpredictable, sometimes volatile, but always rooted in what can only be described as an unshakable faith. Zayed’s seamless cinematography takes on the perspective of the other lifters and of the crowd, and she doesn’t shy away from the losses and tears. The result captures Zebiba’s physical and mental struggles, as Ramadan pushes her further and harder — often more than any of his other athletes. But as time marches on, bringing Zebiba more success, it also brings new challenges for the gym, her team, and ultimately for Zebiba herself.

This film held its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and screened at Doc NYC and Dok Leipzig – where it received the Golden Dove award and qualification for submission to compete for the 2021 Academy Award for Documentary Feature.

Part of #ThisIsNotaBuffet, Alserkal’s Ramadan programme, embodying the Ramadan spirit of taking it slow, being grounded, and being kinder to ourselves and each other.