Whatever Lola Wants


North American Premiere

France, Morocco | 115 MINUTES | English, Arabic |


Lola (Laura Ramsey) is struggling to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer in New York, but the auditions are disheartening and the rejections are piling up. On top of it all, her day job as a mail carrier is beginning to look more and more like a permanent gig. By chance, during one of many evenings she spends commiserating with Yussef, her gay Egyptian neighbor, she's captivated when he shows her an old video featuring the seductive belly dancing of Ismahan, one of Egypt's biggest stars. Fate soon intervenes again when Lola happens to meet Zach, a handsome Egyptian attending business school in the United States. The two start a whirlwind romance, and through a series of twists, Lola finds herself in Cairo, where she decides to track down the reclusive Ismahan for lessons. There she learns not only the secrets of oriental dance but also the secret of Ismahan's mysterious past. Director Nabil Ayouch uses Lola's hilariously corn-fed naïveté as a vehicle to explore the comic misunderstandings of cross-cultural love and the underlying prejudices of both Eastern and Western culture. He also casts a loving eye over the glorious art of oriental dance and those who practice it. Lola manages to win hearts and success in the most unorthodox fashion and to open doors that would otherwise be closed to a blonde American. Shot on sets in Moroccan studios, Whatever Lola Wants is surprisingly effective in evoking Cairo. This modern-day, global fairytale offers plenty of dancing, sparkling costumes, and a rousing soundtrack-in short, it's loads of fun.


Directed by Nabil Ayouch

Nabil Ayouch (b. 1969, Paris, France) studied theater and direction before he began directing commercials in 1992. In 1997, after making several short films, he directed his first feature, Mektoub, which was selected to represent Morocco at the 1998 Academy Awards®. Half a million people in Morocco alone saw his second feature, Ali Zaoua, Prince of the Streets. The film won a total of 44 prizes at various international festivals. Between 2000 and 2003, he created the Mohammed Reggab Award for screenplays and produced eight short subjects by first-time young talents. He founded the organizations Moroccan Coalition for Cultural Diversity, Made In Morocco, Media Films Development, and Moroccan Anti-Piracy Struggle.
Principal Cast
Laura Ramsey, Assaad Bouab, Carmen Lebbos, Hichem Rostom, Achmed Akkabi, Nadim Sawalha
Nathalie Saugeon, Jane Hawksley, Nabil Ayouch
Vincent Mathias
Natacha Atlas
Jake Eberts, Leonard Glowinski, Pierre Grunstein