Private - Starring Mohammad Bakri
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Winner!! - Best Film, 2004 Locarno Film Festival
Winner!! - Best Actor, Mohammad Bakri, 2004 Locarno Film Festival
Winner!! - Fipresci Jury Award, 2005 Intl. Federation of Film Critics
Mohammad (Mohammad Bakri), his wife (Areen Omari) and their five children live in a large, isolated house located mid-way between a Palestinian village and an Israeli settlement. Viewed as a strategic lookout point, the house is forcefully taken over by Israeli soldiers, who confine Mohammad and his family to a few downstairs rooms in daytime and a single room at night. Against his wife's wishes, Mohammad decides to keep the family together in the house until the soldiers move on, creating division among his kin and a precarious relationship with the soldiers. Italy's pick for the 2005 Foreign Film Oscar competition (before being disqualified by the Academy because the primary languages were not Itlaian), Saverio Costanzo's first feature is a powerful and haunting psychological thriller.
". . . acted with fierce conviction." -- -The Village Voice
". . . as politically defiant a metaphor for Israeli-Palestinian relations in the occupied territories as you'll ever see on screen." -- -Seattle Post-Intelligencer
". . . more raw and real the anything Hollywood fantasy can offer." -- -BBC
"Edgy. . . involving and provactive." -- -L.A. Times
"Powerful. . . an emotionally gripping drama." -- -Variety
- Director bio
- Production notes
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The greatest strength of this film is that, though the conflict is central to every piece of the story, it is expressed primarily in its pervasive influence on the individual: the brutality of power, racism, the struggle to maintain purpose amidst uncertainty and fear. In doing this, the film refuses to draw clear lines. There are few heroes, and their moments of redemeption are not grand but small, reluctant, even accidental.
This film has not received the publicity of other recent films and documentaries on the conflict. I fear this is partly because it does not provide that warm, fuzzy feeling U.S. audiences seek. But, probably more important, the film is geared for an audience that is already familiar with the conflict. There is little explanation of who the characters are or the circumstances in which the plot occurs. These are immediately obvious to those familiar with the conflict, but may lead to confusion on the part of many viewers.
Still, if it is a window into the intimate struggles of the conflict you seek, I can not recommend any better film. While one can not help but draw broader implications, it is very clear that the characters are not meant to be merely lowest-common-denominator representatives of their respective societies. Each tells their own tale, and the parts do not add up to the whole story of the conflict, but the pieces that are presented are thoroughly and sincerely told.
Mohammad(Mohammad Bakri) is a middle aged father of five living with his wife Samiah (Areen Omari) in a lage house midway between a Palestinian village and an Israeli settlement. Sice the home can be viewed as a strategic lookout point it is forceably occupied by Israeli soldiers led by Commander Ofer (Lior Miller). The family is given the choice either to leave the house or to occupy a few downstairs rooms in the daytime and be locked in the living room at night. The family, under pain of punishment, is told that they must not venture into the upstairs bedrooms where the soldiers are staying.
What follows the occupation can be seen as a metaphor for the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Mohammad is faced with the choice to leave and thus give up his principles to to maintain his nonviolent protest come what may. His oldest daughter,Mariam (Hend Ayoub), wants to stay and fight but at great danger to herself tries desperately to humanize her captors. The family's oldeat son, Jamal (Marco Alsaving)chooses a far more violent approach. He sides with Palestinian freedom fighters and imagines himself to be one. What we have here is more than the story of a people. Rather it is the very real story of a family falling apart in the face of adversity.
The film was shot in DV by Luigi Martinucci and the picture has a murky verite feel especially in the nighttime scenes. The viewer becomes almost a voyeur to the action and as the movie moves along we feel claustrophobic and trapped like the family.
This is a difficult film to watch because of the subject matter but it should be seen by a wider audience than it has. The all region disc by Typecast features none of the special features that are available on the Region 2 disc that has been widely reviewed in the media. The Dolby 2.0 sountrack is servicable and the disc contains a trailer and simple production notes.
Well worth the effort if you can find it.