TIFF17 REVIEW: Of Sheep and Men [2017]

“In this country, the big fish eat the small fish” It’s the cusp of Eid in Algiers, Bab el Oued circa 2016 and the rams are running wild. Well, not wild per se considering each is bought, sold, and always owned. They seem to be a huge staple in this impoverished town as a means […]

TIFF17 REVIEW: شيخ جاكسون [Sheikh Jackson] [2017]

“You can’t guarantee living till tomorrow” The thing I could never wrap my head around religious-wise is the idea of strict right and wrong. As a Catholic it’s somewhat easy as far as sin and repentance. You’re allowed to do a lot as long as you feel remorse and guilt enough to learn your lesson. […]

REVIEW: De sidste mænd i Aleppo [Last Men in Aleppo] [2017]

“If I leave, it will be to the cemetery” It’s a shame that those who need to watch Last Men in Aleppo are those who won’t. I’m talking the brainwashed masses quick to call a liberal media “fake news” while they help facilitate legitimate fake news fabricated by enemy regimes hoping to plant dissent. They […]

REVIEW: Watani: My Homeland [2016]

“I am responsible for destroying my children’s future right now” Out of five Oscar-nominated documentary shorts, four deal with the cost of genocide with three being specifically about today’s Arab refugees. This shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the topic is very much at the forefront of the world’s mind, the internet allowing injustices thousands […]

REVIEW: The White Helmets [2016]

“To save a life is to save all of humanity” Every year seems to bring a new on-the-ground document of nightmarish tragedy thanks to Netflix’s fearless international programming. 2013 brought the fantastic The Square about Egyptians standing ground in their revolution against tyrants. 2015 brought the equally eye-opening Winter on Fire to ensure everyone acknowledged […]

REVIEW: Ya Tayr El Tayer [The Idol] [2016]

“People are dying and you’re singing?” Biopics are often difficult because the subject’s life may not contain the suspense and intrigue necessary for a film to succeed. This is why many focus on a brief period of time rather than a full life—honing in on the moment that made this person worthy of having his/her […]

REVIEW: The Oath [2010]

“One month is like a year here” Documentarian Laura Poitras‘ The Oath is an intriguing film with a lot going on in—sometimes to its detriment. It wants to be an exposé on America’s false imprisonment of suspected terrorists in Guantanamo Bay, a heartfelt look at the guilt of a man responsible for another’s involvement in […]

REVIEW: Theeb [2015]

“No bullets until you aim straight” The constant throughout Naji Abu Nowar‘s debut feature is the underestimation of its titular Theeb (Jacir Eid Al-Hwietat). This isn’t unwarranted considering his age and the Bedouin lifestyle he inhabits, but it’s still a dangerous proposition with a name that translates to “Wolf” and the blood of the highly […]

TIFF15 REVIEW: Waves ’98 [2015]

“It feels like everything is stuck in a loop” Downtown Beirut is Waves ’98‘s lead character Omar’s (Elie Bassila)—a virtual, teenage stand-in for writer/director Ely Dagher—”white whale”. It’s a world he has yet to experience close-up, relegated to peering over and through concrete buildings from his safe suburban rooftop at a city split in two […]

REVIEW: Al-Midan [The Square] [2013]

“We were all present; we were one hand” As the initial sit-in at Tahrir Square taught the Egyptian people the power of protest and revolution in securing freedoms they only dreamed they could have, Jehane Noujaim’s Al-Midan [The Square] shares it on an international scale. I’ll admit I thought everything was okay after Hosni Mubarak […]

TIFF13 REVIEW: Falastine Stereo [Palestine Stereo] [2013]

“We all should sing and dance and live and allow nothing to break us” No matter how much Stereo (Mahmud Abu-Jazi) loves his country, living in the warzone that is occupied Palestine has to prove hollow at some point. A wedding singer with what many say is a sweet voice—hence the nickname—that moment comes via […]