Film, Drama

Time Out says

Abu Shukri (Hussein Yassin Mahajne) is so ashamed of his eldest daughter’s ill-deserved reputation as a woman of loose morals that he’s moved his family into a hovel in the Palestinian desert, far from town. A stern patriarch whose work as a charcoal-burner only just makes ends meet, he insists his son Shukri (Ahamad Abed) forego school and help him collect timber from forests run by the Israeli authorities. This tyranny, along with his attitude towards the ‘dishonoured’ Gamila (Roba Blal) and his refusal to return to town, provokes the disapproval of his wife Um Shukri (Amal Bweerat). Tempers are frayed; maybe building a pipeline to bring water to their remote home will cool things down a little…

This debut feature from Palestinian Tawfik Abu Wael has a lot going for it: Assaf Sudry’s striking cinematography, Wissam Gibran’s fine music, and strong first-time performances from a cast of non-professionals. Also impressive is the way the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is allowed to cast a shadow over the familial tensions even though it’s never explicitly depicted or alluded to. Rather, while it’s a film about freedom and rebellion, need and desire, fear and oppression, tradition and change, its milieu feels mythic rather than contemporary, poetic rather than a realistic reflection of everyday life. And that’s both a strength and weakness; too often the focus on water, fire and earth feels like heavy-handed symbolism, and the silent glares and enigmatic gestures seem portentous or a product of needless mystification. Still, it’s a bold, brave film; its maker is probably someone to keep an eye on.



Release details

Release date:
Friday November 25 2005
110 mins

Cast and crew

Tawfik Abu Wael
Roba Blal
Amal Bweerat
Hussein Yassin Mahajne
Jamila Abu Hussein
Ahmad Abed El G'ani
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