Asma’a (Hend Sabry) left the colorful comfort of her rural home for the city and is now struggling to raise her teenage daughter and nurse her aging father. The young Egyptian woman is careful around her neighbors and colleagues, for fear that her reputation will be sullied. She suffers from a gall-bladder problem, but no doctor is willing to operate because Asma’a has a secret: she is HIV-positive.
In a world where HIV/AIDS is still stigmatized, Asma’a survives by avoiding any situation that might make it known that she is infected. It takes the fateful intervention of Mohsen (Maged El Kedwani), the bold host of a daring TV show, to teach Asma’a to speak out and fight back against her illness and the ignorance of society.
Sabry shines in the role, which she delivers with deeply affecting grace. Her courage in portraying a marginalized character in circumstances deemed taboo by society is at once humanitarian and artful. Co-starring are the charismatic El Kedwani and the up-and-coming Hani Adel, who plays Asma’a’s husband.
Writer/director Amr Salama –whose first film On a Day Like Today had its premiere at ADFF in 2008 –displays masterful cinematography and haunting imagery in this second film, revealing a matured style that is well suited to the story’s delicate subject. Based on real-life events, Asma’a tackles thorny issues that will certainly spark heated debate.