REVIEW: Nefta Football Club [2019]

“I’m going to piss in Algeria” Two men (Lyès Salem‘s Salim and Hichem Mesbah‘s Ali) are searching for a mule. Two boys (Eltayef Dhaoui‘s Mohamed and Mohamed Ali Ayari‘s Abdallah) are on their way to a makeshift desert soccer field to have a match with the friends when they come across the animal standing on […]

REVIEW: Brotherhood [2019]

“Promise me that you’ll never go there” Terrorism is a complex topic too many gloss over in a desire to pretend it’s simple. We generalize and make blanket declarations against an enemy all while refusing to even attempt to understand where they’re coming from. So we of course would never accept the reality that it’s […]

REVIEW: For Sama [2019]

“I don’t regret anything” After five years of footage depicting the rapid decline in Aleppo as college protests turn to rebellion with a dictatorial regime finding friends in Russia to decimate innocent civilians it intentionally refuses to differentiate from soldiers and extremists, Waad al-Kateab realizes that the snippets she’s uploaded to expose these atrocities to […]

OIFF19 REVIEW: Mafak [Screwdriver] [2019]

“I didn’t even cry” You hate to think of the United States as a warzone and yet that’s exactly what it is in many respects. Whether a for-profit prison system leaving a largely Black population disenfranchised, unemployable, and haunted or caged children who crossed the Southern border for asylum only to be scarred by the […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: 1982 [2019]

“Don’t invite the war into our home” Before 2007, all Lebanese men were conscripted to serve in the military for at least one year. I’ve heard from multiple people that it wasn’t a question of citizenship, but ethnicity. If I ever visited before that year, I wouldn’t have been able to return to America without […]

VENICE19 REVIEW: Les épouvantails [The Scarecrows] [2019]

“You’re not lost” It begins in a prison cell with a despondent Djo (Joumene Limam) scribbling words on paper as Zina (Nour Hajri) implores her to stand so they may leave. Salvation comes in the form of a lawyer (Afef Ben Mahmoud‘s Nadia) and doctor (Fatma Ben Saïdane‘s Dora) desperate to figure out what has […]

TIFF19 REVIEW: My English Cousin [2019]

“I am cooked to perfection” It’s been seventeen years since Fahed Mameri left Algeria to achieve a better life in England. Since then he has settled in Grimsby (a place with high unemployment and little infrastructure to sustain a healthy living), married an Englishwoman, and found two jobs with which to earn barely enough money […]

TIFF REVIEW: کفرناحوم [Capharnaüm] [Capernaum] [2018]

“Because I was born” The synopsis doesn’t lie. Young Zain (Zain Al Rafeea) is in prison, his five-year sentence just put into effect. He has no papers despite being born in Lebanon and thus a doctor must estimate his age by his lack of baby teeth as twelve. But here he is anyway for a […]

REVIEW: Aala Kaf Ifrit [Beauty and the Dogs] [2017]

“What law forbids a human being from seeing a doctor?” Fear should never be underestimated as a means for oppression or motivation because there are few emotions more potent. This is why totalitarian regimes use it as a weapon to silence those who dare find the courage to stand up for their rights. They sow […]

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. […]