A refugee camp in Jordan, 1967. Like thousands of Palestinians forced from their homes by Israeli expansion, 11-year-old Tarek (Mahmoud Asfa) waits in vain for the day when he’ll be able to return to his old life and, more importantly, his missing father. Frustrated by his overprotective mother Ghaydaa (Ruba Blal), Tarek flees the camp and heads off cross-country, stumbling into a settlement run by Palestinian volunteer militia.
By getting to the roots of this on-going conflict director Annemarie Jacir (‘Salt of This Sea’) succeeds in her efforts to give a human face to the Palestinian diaspora. Tarek is a plucky, likeable hero, and Asfa plays him with quiet, unfussy grace. But the rest of the characters are not so well drawn, and there’s a lack of subtlety or surprise which serves the story poorly. In relying on the established clichés of realist world cinema – wide-eyed innocents, gruff father figures, eye-catching but rather inert landscape photography – her film feels a little too familiar to really hit home. That said, it’s a thoughtful, timely, often quietly captivating drama.