Contemporary World Cinema | 2017 | 96 minutes
Stranger Says: A father and son drive around hand-delivering wedding invitations all over Nazareth. Each location they visit is a little vignette into Christian Palestinian life. As they drive, they talk about their lives, probe their father-son issues, hint around their wants and frustrations, fight, reconcile, try to come to an understanding. The son lives abroad and is continually frustrated with the old-timey way people think and do things in his homeland. The father, living there day to day, sees the value in the old ways and is a realist about the compromises necessary to be a Palestinian living in Israel. Written and directed by Palestinian filmmaker and poet Annemarie Jacir, the father-son story is heartfelt and the acting is compelling. (GILLIAN ANDERSON)
SIFF Says:Annemarie Jacir (WHEN I SAW YOU) returns to SIFF with the story of an estranged father and son (played by real-life father and son Mohammad and Saleh Bakri) who come together to carry out their duty. Abu Shadi is a divorced father and a schoolteacher in his mid-sixties living in Nazareth. Shadi, his son, is an architect living in Rome. When a family wedding looms, Shadi returns home to help his father hand-deliver invitations, as tradition requires. As they drive around visiting relatives and friends, the cranky father and his grudging son try to share the details of their very different lives, and navigate the longstanding tension that exists between them, to sometimes comic effect. (The traffic doesn’t help.) In her two previous films, Jacir explored the displacement of Palestinians. Now, for the first time, she considers the experience of those living with Israel’s borders—as well as the complexity of the relationship between the two groups. (Indeed, one subplot involves Abu Shadi’s ex-wife, now living in the U.S., and whether or not she’ll be able to attend her daughter’s wedding.) WAJIB is a tribute to the power of family and community ties between those who inhabit different worlds but share an unshakable bond.
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