Jordanian movies in the limelight at Saudi film festival

Stills from the movie Farha. (Photos: Handouts from Ayah Jardaneh)
JEDDAH — Jordanian cinema had a strong presence at the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival, held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, showing three movies with a distinctive production style, most inspired by true events.اضافة اعلان

Farha”, “Daughters of Abdul-Rahman”, and “The Alleys” are perhaps the best Jordanian films made in the past few years; two mark the debut for their directors.

Darin Sallam receives her special mention at the Red Sea International Film Festival. (Photo: Israa Radydeh/Jordan News)

“Farha”, by Darin J. Sallam and at its first regional screening at the festival, is based on the true events of the Palestinian Nakba of 1948.

Little Farha, 14 years old, extremely devoted to her father, goes through a tortuous and rich journey to the times of Nakba.

Love for Palestine, the Earth, and the eye of an innocent witness who was moved by childhood events and a storm that toppled the dream, including family, home, and home, are all present in the movie. It is a harrowing story in which Farha, who dreamed of completing her studies in the city, pending the approval of her father, sees her dream torn apart by Nakba, which also comes with the loss of the father, home, neighbors, parents, loved ones, misfortune, a friend, memories, the taste of a fig, and of the sun that does not lose sight of the Bayader.

Stills from the movie Farha. (Photos: Handouts from Ayah Jardaneh)

Facing the Israeli occupation, her father had to go into a vault and return to her after a while. Stories can be seen through narrow holes in the door and the wall. They are tales of pain in an aggressive rhythm from which no one has been delivered. Tales of treason and conspiracy, of struggle, challenges, and desire, of births and assassinations.

There are details of the time that passes when there is nothing in that vault but vacuum and hope that the sun that leaks from those holes will rise and give hope.

Arab actors including Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, and Sameera Asir played in the film.

Stills from the movie Farha. (Photos: Handouts from Ayah Jardaneh)

Karam Tahir, who played Farha, delivered a great performance for someone who stood in front of the camera for the first time in the tiny closed place from where she made the viewers feel her fears and struggles before she liberated herself.

The film proceeded from classical to modern filming, with a clever palette of colors to highlight Farah’s sophistication in the way she views the world.

Farha got Special Mention at the festival.

Daughters of Abdul-Rahman is a story of women’s ideological and social liberation.

Zaid Abu Hamdan’s debut film draws attention to stereotyped characterizations of women a community where patriarchy and machismo dominate. It is a movie about dramatic events, comedy, and sad moments that leave the heart in pain and affected by the characters’ transformation that follows the life of Abdul-Rahman’s four daughters: Amal, Zainab, Tahah, and Almah. Three live away, unlike Zainab, who lives with her father and takes care of him until he disappears one day. That is where things get harder, and the struggle begins.

The events of the film begin with the rapid passage of their lives and escalate from the moment the four girls met after years of separation because of the sudden disappearance of their father.

Zainab, the eldest daughter, dreamed of becoming a musician; instead, she is living with her father. Amal married at a young age, wears the niqab, and is being physically abused by her husband, who wants to marry off their youngest daughter at the age of 15.

Samah gets married to a rich man, lives in shame for having a gay husband, and feels depressed and used. The youngest sister, breaking all taboos, took off her hijab and moved to Dubai with her boyfriend, who decides to marry her later and comes back to get her father’s approval.

Abu Hamdan’s film is based on deep research of social and women struggle against social standards and violence. It raises the issue of family life, domestic violence, and underage marriage. It raises issues of family life, customs and traditions, and specifically the upbringing of girls in Arab societies. It also deals with thorny issues such as gender discrimination and the wearing of the niqab.

Stills from the movie The Alleys. (Photos: Handouts from Bassel Ghandour)

The Alleys is perhaps one of the best movies, with great filming techniques, cinematography, script, and acting. It was written and directed by Bassel Ghandour and explores the daily life and routine in a place where everyone knows everything about everyone.

Ali (Emad Azmi), who is in love with Lana (Baraka Rahmani), the daughter of the local hair salon owner (Nadira Omran), is a hustler; their lives are turned upside down when they confront, in the neighborhood, a local gangster, Abbas (Monzer Reyahnah), and right-hand woman, Hanadi (Maisa Abd Elhadi).

Plenty of twists are present in The Alleys, which is a story of dark backstreets, control, and its consequences.   

The film is about trying to placate societal structures and traditions at the expense of the individual, about illegal methods to empower oneself at the expense of the many.

Stills from the movie The Alleys. (Photos: Handouts from Bassel Ghandour)

Making for an entertaining thriller filled with themes and ideas, The Alleys shows how negative emotions and energies can betray one.

The film talks about conflicting emotions and antisocial natures in characters one can identify with.

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