Naziha Arebi offers an intimate look at post-revolution Libya through the eyes of an aspiring all-female soccer team, whose struggle to gain mainstream acceptance mirrors the broader challenges facing women in contemporary Libyan society.
"We've lived many beginnings," says Fadwa, the young protagonist in Naziha Arebi's debut documentary, Freedom Fields. Fadwa is remarking on the state of post-revolution Libya in the aftermath of the violent overthrow of Col. Moammar Gadhafi and the reformative protests of the Arab Spring. However, as we are soon to find out, her comment also speaks to another dream close to her heart: to play soccer for her country on the international stage.
The challenges are extraordinary. The women on the team struggle to gain resources, respect, and even the right to play, as certain segments of society don't support their efforts. Arebi follows the players over the course of four years, filming from 2012 to 2016, documenting their training, issues off the pitch, and how, in many ways, their hopes and difficulties speak to the broader position of women in contemporary Libyan society.
Arebi brings a keen eye to the documentary, capturing the beauty of streetlife and the women's games with stunning cinematography. Whether you're a fan of soccer or not, Arebi draws the viewer into a world where (as the women chant before they play) "determination, will, strength" are words to live by.