Nut$ is playing at #AFF2017 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on October 15 at 9:25 pm and at Harmony Gold in Los Angeles on October 29 at 8:30pm. Get your tickets here!

Nut$ is a non-stop, high stakes, action-packed film filled with sexy intrigue. It’s exhilarating while still being concerned with the big questions of gender, identity, and self-empowerment. The film tells the story of poker genius Lana, played by Darine Hamze, and her efforts to navigate the pressures of a male-dominated (under)world filled with controlling, lurking men and grander societal expectations to be a “normal” housewife. We had the opportunity to ask Darine herself a few questions about her work and her thoughts on the film.

Arab Film and Media Institute: How did you first start acting? What made you choose this career path?

Darine Hamze: I have always known I loved the arts, ever since I was a child. I participated in all my school’s plays and events. I applied for a BA in Theatre Arts (Acting and Directing) at one of the hardest universities, with limited acceptance rates: The Lebanese University. They only take 15 students per year for theatre. For my practical acting entrance exam, I chose to do Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. I was accepted due to natural talent at the time. Looking back, I knew little of the great acting methods. From then on, after my graduation and then my MA in Cinema from London’s University of Westminster, it just became naturally my career.

AFMI: What drew you to the role of Lana in Nut$?

DH: For the role of Lana, I was drawn in by the producer of the film, Tarek Sikias. At the beginning, he had no script but he did have an idea of the movie and I liked his idea. His concept was of a woman so hooked on gambling and being on the edge of life’s thrill, that she chooses to go all in. This kind of genre hadn’t been made before locally. Also, the fact that a French director like Henri Barges was part of the project made the action scenes have authenticity and the team was splendid in making the film’s visuals at top international standards. It was worth the two year adventure of making this film, and it was a great adventure at that.

AFMI: You tend to take on many roles that are controversial. Why is that?  

DH: I like to challenge myself as an actress and push the boundaries of our small limited local cinema. I am passionate about my job and have the right academics as well as experiential tools, so when there is a good challenging character out there, I take it so I can practice the capabilities of my craft.

AFMI: What do you think this film says about Lebanon or Lebanese culture?

DH: Like all cinema in the world, a film represents itself before it represents a country or culture. But in this film, I feel Lana as a Lebanese character, and all the other character surrounding her, could be representing the post war generations of a chaotic country still mourning its civil war scars and trying to make sense of the world. I see Lana’s character, personally, as a part of a lost generation that usually follows a country where a civil war had taken place. Lana is trying to find pleasure or meaning to her life in extreme places. I also think the gangsters she falls victim to are the residues of such civil war ex-militias that are still corrupting society. Lebanon is a beautiful country with amazing culture, but it is, in a way, similar to Lana who is a victim of corruption, violence and instability.

AFMI: What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?

DH: First of all, I hope they enjoy their time and love the cinematic aspect of Lebanese movies being able to reach this international level of action film standards. Second, I hope they can watch the film objectively and are able to see the danger and the thrill that is surrounding us in the Middle East at the moment. Third, I hope they understand the subtext and the depth of what we are trying to reflect in what I already stated about the characters before and what their connotations are. Finally, I hope they enjoy the acting and the soundtrack and think more of what is going on in the world we are living in.

Nut$ is playing at #AFF2017 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on October 15 at 9:25 pm and at Harmony Gold in Los Angeles on October 29 at 8:30pm. Get your tickets here!