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. […]

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 […]