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We started with books and continue with films. We present our 5 Middle East themed films for this summer, present on: Netflix, Sky, Youtube and, of course, in DVD format.
Small premise: we have been really hard to fight on which ones to insert and for this reason it cannot be considered a ranking. In addition, these are the films that, for some ancestral reason, we would recommend in the summer, not necessarily “the best films”. We have seen all the titles in this year in the Middle East and Surroundings and for this we must thank you. You have been an extra stimulus especially in this field.
“The Breadwinner”, an Afghan fairy tale
Parvana is an eleven-year-old girl who grows up under the Taliban regime in Afghanistan in 2011. When her father is wrongfully arrested, the young girl disguises herself as a boy in order to support the family. With obstinate determination, Parvana draws strength from the stories her father told her and finally risks her life to find out if he is still alive.
A masterpiece of animation that manages to recount with poetry what has been one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent years. Oscar nominated last year, The Breadwinner is arguably one of the best Middle East-themed Netflix movies.
“The insult” by Ziad Doueri
After an emotional exchange between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee escalates, the men end up in a court case that gets national attention. The simple private matter between the two turns into a conflict of incredible proportions, gradually becoming a national case, a settlement of accounts between different cultures and religions with unexpected twists. In fact, Toni is a Lebanese Christian and Yasser a Palestinian Muslim. In addition to lawyers and family members, two opposing factions of a country lined up at the trial, rediscovering wounds never treated and shocking revelations, bringing to the surface a past that is always present.
Nominee for the 2018 Oscar Awards for Best Foreign Film, “The Insult” is an incredible perspective on the wounds of the Lebanese Civil War, which have never been fully resolved. The incredible thing, and a sign of Zoueri’s mastery, will be the premise: a trivial insult, chapeau. Available on Sky.
“Güneşi Gördüm” by Mahsun Kırmızıgül
The film takes us to the Erzurum countryside where we will get to know Ramo and his family. The Altun have lived in those places for generations but, with the war on Kurdish terrorism advancing, the Turkish army is pushing to move the residents. With the death of his son, however, Davut, one of the patriarchs, will support the request of the army, too upset by the horrors of the war to remain. The family will then share with Ramo and his family who will move to Istanbul while Davut will choose to move to Norway with his brother-in-law. The film narrates all the vicissitudes of this family of Kurdish peasants grappling with everyday life, full of problems and particularly cruel for them. It will only be after several mourning that the family finally decide to return to their village, crushed by too many possibilities in Istanbul.
A choral film that manages to take all aspects of modern Turkey. We have the war in Kurdistan, the disparity between east and west and finally homosexuality. In fact, Kado, Ramo’s brother, will discover himself transgender in Istanbul causing many problems in the family, still extremely provincial and lagging behind on certain issues. The way in which the theme was treated is also poetic. In one of the last scenes, in fact, Kado will compare himself to a berfin, a snowdrop, so much in love with the sun as to die as soon as he sees it. Available on Netflix with subtitles.
“Timbuktu” by Abderrahmene Sissako
A cattle herder lives with his family in a village near Timbuktu, Mali. The tranquility experienced in the desert dunes is abruptly disturbed by the arrival of armed jihādist elements, who impose Sharīʿa and ban music, football and cigarettes. They then proceed to forced marriages, persecute women and improvise their courts that issue unjust and absurd sentences, based on a sectarian vision of Islam. Despite the ferocity of their repression, the population bravely resists, in the name of a just legal, social and cultural vision of Islam.
One of the few films we have talked about several times, first writing an article about the film and then one specifically about the role of football in the film. What can I say, there are films that can only be called masterpieces, Timbuktu is one of them. Abderrahmene Sissako does a crazy job, denouncing the situation in Mali but with a poem rarely seen on the big screen. Masterpiece. Available on Youtube.
“Barakah meets Barakah” by Mahmoud Sabbagh
Barakah is a member of the religious police who go around Jeddah by issuing fines for minor offenses. Bibi is using carefully cut Instagram videos to accumulate millions of likes for her avant-garde and eco-friendly female empowerment messages. Barakah stumbles into one of his photo sets and is fascinated by it. The two like each other, but finding an appropriate place to meet face-to-face and even sharing a moment together proves difficult due to the rigid public policies of Saudi Arabia.
A film that surprised us with its sweetness and beautiful taste, giving us more hope for the Gulf cinema. Everything is built to perfection to be honest, doing it incredibly well. Probably one of our absolute favorite comedies, able to leave you a smile and a pleasant aftertaste of tenderness. Available on Netflix.
We hope you liked the list, in these days we will have many “5 for the summer”. Follow us on our facebook page, Spotify, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, or on our Telegram channel. Ogni like, condivisione o supporto è ben accetto e ci aiuta a dedicarci sempre di più alla nostra passione: raccontare il Medio Oriente.