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Well made film from Palestinian side of the border, providing insight how it is to live there and how it influences relationships between people living on both sides
I saw this film at the Ghent (Belgium) film festival 2013. I usually avoid films involving the Israel versus Palestine controversy, but this one looked different while reading the synopsis on the festival website. Central theme is the relationships between people on both sides of the fence, be it family, lovers, friends or schoolmates. The separation fence (border wall) was announced to play a visible role in the plot, a literally high obstacle to be crossed to maintain contact. Also, this film is completely produced at (and financed from) the Palestinian side of the border, something that does not happen very often, awaking interest in spite of the location.
Some negative remarks first. I had problems identifying myself with the main characters and their customs, where flirting, courting, proposing, engaging, and finally getting married seems a convoluted process. At least that is what we think when seeing it through our Western European eyes, where this works very differently. And such things are even more complicated in the middle of the conflict between Palestine and Israel. A very visible role in the plot has a huge wall that we see several times being crossed illegally, as an obstacle to surmount when visiting a woman you love on the other side. After reading the synopsis on the festival website, I deemed this wall a metaphorical role at first, but the underlying political conflict creeps in more and more when getting further in the story.
But there are also many positive things to say about the movie. These film makers get across perfectly, maybe precisely that being their most important achievement, how difficult it is to know for sure in such an environment who can be trusted. Who is on your side, and who is not? Everyone can be a traitor, either because of religious beliefs, bad experiences, blackmail, family secrets, physical pressure, or while relatives or loved ones are held hostage. Given these examples, one may state that not even someone you know from childhood, can be considered full-proof trustworthy material. And what about someone who was imprisoned for a while, but released seemingly before he did the allotted time behind bars? How can you prove you are not a mole, when everyone assumes otherwise??
All in all, as a finished feature film coming from a country we don't recognize as producing films that are worthy to be programmed in a film festival, this one certainly is notable and shows a promising future for these film makers. As of this writing, the film made a good head start for the audience award (2nd place, average score 4.43 out of 5). I deduce that my feeling of remote involvement tells more about me than about the film itself. But anyway, see for yourself as it may provide for some more insight in the underlying political and religious conflicts that seem unsolvable within the foreseeable future.
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