Saturday, July 06, 2013

A Movie To Look For: "The Attack"

Take a look at Ziad Douieri's film adaptation of a novel by Yasmina Khadra. It's been controversial, which means it's worth seeking out to see for yourself:
Sometimes the screenplay for “The Attack” (written by Doueiri and his partner, Joëlle Touma) hits the emotions a little too squarely on the nose, but this doleful and nuanced Middle Eastern tragedy is unlike any other recent film from the region in various ways. Doueiri has said that leaders of Hezbollah, Lebanon’s de facto governing power, privately promised not to interfere with his film – but that was before he made it. In depicting Israel as a complicated and conflicted modern society rather than a demonic, monolithic imperialist power, Doueiri should have known he was entering a no-go zone for Arab cinema (which either ignores the existence of Israel altogether or indulges in the worst kind of anti-Jewish stereotypes). 
It isn’t even ironic that “The Attack” won the best-film award at the Marrakech International Film Festival, the Arab world’s leading showcase, and has now been banned in Lebanon and all other nations of the Arab League. That’s exactly how these things work. Producers from Egypt and Qatar have even removed their credits from the film, so that it now appears to be a European-Israeli co-production. But all these marks of disapproval, as Doueiri surely knows, will only heighten the appeal of “The Attack” to younger Arabs hungry to break free of ideological certainty and listen to new alternatives. In its own way, “The Attack” is a crucial step forward: It’s time for the artists of the Middle East to engage in real dialogue, since the politicians can’t or won’t.

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