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Film Of The Week Knotty nuptials in Nazareth

MARIA DUARTE recommends a rousing Palestinian drama exploring the conflict between the old and the new in the run-up to a wedding

Wajib (15)
Directed by Annemarie Jacir

 

IN WAJIB, a father and his estranged son embark on a local Palestinian custom of hand-delivering his daughter's wedding invitations to every guest.

 

Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri) is driven around Nazareth by his architect son Shadi (played by the former's real-life son Saleh Bakri). He's freshly returned from Rome and during the day-long deliveries of invitations to all their friends' and relatives' homes to invite them to his sister's big day, simmering tensions between them slowly rise to the surface.

 

Abu chastises his son for choosing to live abroad, his choice of girlfriend — her father is a leading member of the PLO — and for staying in touch with his mother. She abandoned them all when Shadi and his sister Amal (Maria Zreik) were very young to run away to the US with her lover.

 

Shadi questions his father's decision to stay in Nazareth and invite certain people to the wedding to keep them sweet, in particular his Israeli boss. Abu believes that he can give him a much-needed promotion but Shadi is convinced that he works for the secret service and forced him to go abroad.

 

He chides Abu for smoking despite his ill health and for humiliating himself and making compromises in order not to make waves. Yet, as his father points out, he had no choice — he had a young family to raise on his own. He is desperate for Shadi to return home for good and marry a nice local Palestinian girl.

 

The dynamics and chemistry between these real-life father and son actors, along with a gentle underlying humour in what's a whip-smart drama by writer and director Annemarie Jacir, provides an insightful snapshot of modern day life in Nazareth and how the majority Arab population has devised the means of co-existing under the restrictions of the Israeli regime.

 

Wajib, which apparently means “social duty,” paints a fascinating, intimate and warm-hearted picture of a family at odds. Their differing views of life and what it means to be a Palestinian today certainly has resonance.

 

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