Palestine 2017, 96 mins.

Directed by Annemarie Jacir

(These comments may contain plot spoilers)

What a perfect film for the festive season! Inspired by partaking in her own husband’s Wajib (social duty) Annemarie Jacir has created a quietly funny and yet impassioned ‘odd couple' road movie of sorts. 


On a wintery day in occupied Nazareth affable traditional father Abu Shadi and his fiery expat son Shadi, played by real life father and son Mohammad and Saleh Bakri fulfil their obligations one of which is to deliver wedding invitations by hand, as a team going from door to door:...but their united front is strained. 


Abu Shadi is unhappy that Shadi has left Nazareth, that he is involved with a woman whose father is a Palestinian Activist. Meanwhile Shadi bristles at the prospect of delivering an invitation to someone who he recalls conducted surveillance on Shadi and his friends when they were at school.

Despite their mutual irritation there exists a real bond. Their sessions chatting with various neighbours who have various survival strategies are suffused with respect and understanding and their exchanges with each other pivot thankfully from exasperation to affection more often than the other way round!

In an interview with Birds Eye View it was suggested that 'Wajib' was less political than Jacir’s earlier films but that it is imbued with politics by virtue of the setting Nazareth....to which she replied: ‘Nazareth is like a third character in the film, though not particularly visible it comes between Shadi and his father who have different perspectives on the city.

For Abu Shadi Nazareth is a little paradise despite the reality that as Palestinians they live in a ghetto, and are second class citizens and he tries hard to find ways to be upbeat about his home town. Shad’s relationship with the city is more complex; he loves Nazareth and never wanted to leave. He was a politically conscious teenager and for a young Palestinian living in Israel that’s a dangerous thing to be.

His father feared for him... sent him abroad, to protect him. Now Shadi lives in Rome, prefers life there and doesn’t want to return but will always be ‘a kid from the neighbourhood’.  It’s stitched into him.

"I think everything in life is political, I have never seen a film that is not political, even the most stupid film is political. I try to make films about human beings, what interests me are people, they survive, find hope, find humour and resist disappearing“.


Annie Cartland with acknowledgements to New York Times and Birds Eye View

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