As recent events in the news have so starkly demonstrated, sexual violence and victim-blaming are hardly things of the past even in egalitarian America. So U.S. audiences might be able to relate to Egyptian issue film 678.
In Mohamed Diab’s first feature, three Cairo women come together in a shared struggle against sexual harassment: Fayza’s daily commute is a nightmare of groping and catcalling; Seba began teaching self-defense after being gang-raped at a soccer match; assault victim Nelly prepares to file Egypt’s first sexual harassment lawsuit. The plot — in which Fayza, emboldened by her contact with other pissed-off sisters, resorts to retaliatory violence — is a mix of realist drama, police procedural and inspiring underdog story.
While the material is thorny, the film has won over audiences with its taut plotting and inspired performances. Diab’s film is a nuanced depiction of a society where women get a raw deal, but entrenched prejudice is slowly making way for progress.