Coming of Age While Confronting Arab Stereotypes, in “Simo”

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Simo, a typical teen-ager, lives in the shadow of Emad, his older brother, and their domineering dad, in the suburbs of Montreal, where the family emigrated from Egypt. One night, Simo impersonates Emad in a live-stream gaming session. That simple act leads to serious consequences, when a racist false accusation escalates and puts his brother at risk.

Bold cinematography and a soundtrack of throbbing Egyptian rap beats set the scene and compound a sense of social alienation that affects these men yet strengthens the family. “Drawing heavily from my own life experiences, I couldn’t ignore the elephant in the room,” the film’s writer and director, Aziz Zoromba, says, regarding “the stereotypes associated with being an ‘Arab’ in the West.”

“Simo” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022, followed by Sundance, Berlinale, and numerous festivals worldwide. It won the award for best live-action short at the 2023 Canadian Screen Awards, yet the director has a higher goal. “I wanted it to reach a younger audience,” Zoromba says, who had the opportunity to show it at his former high school in Montreal last year. “ ‘Simo’ is, above all, an immigration story of resilience, love, and pride. I wanted to make a film I wish I had seen when I was sixteen.”


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