The Syrian Bride Genre: Drama, Comedy | Director: Eran Riklis | Language: English | Length: 97 minutes | Country: Israel, Syria | Year: 2004 | Rating: G
A family deals with the typical anxieties of a wedding day while also confronting the political turmoil of the Middle East in this drama, a collaboration between Israeli and Palestinian filmmakers. Hammed is a leading political figure in Majdal Shams, a Druze community that has been under Israeli occupation since the late ’60s. Years ago, Hammed arranged for his daughter Mona to marry Tallel, who has since become a successful actor in Syria. Hammed has gathered the family together to see Mona off, but the occasion is a bittersweet one — given the combative relationship between Israel and Syria, once Mona crosses the border with her husband, it’s unlikely she will ever be able to return. When the family gathers for Mona’s wedding, an insane bureaucracy jeopardizes the wedding.
Boy of Baghdad Genre: Documentary, Drama | Director: Sabah Al-Moswi | Language: Arabic, English Subtitles | Length: 67 minutes | Country: Iraq | Year: 2004 | Rating: NR
Using an embedded Iraqi camera crew, AFI has delivered an unprecedented look at life inside post-war Iraq, all from the unique perspective of a precocious twelve-year-old boy. Doe-eyed and adorable Kheer Allah lives with his mother, father, two brothers and sister. Their “home” has no furniture and no modern appliances, except for an old television and radio sitting precariously atop a stack of used tires. There’s no meat on this family’s table. Home-baked pita bread is the staple in this beyond-poor household. School is out of the question too. Young Kheer Allah must work every day to help his family survive. This daily struggle forms the heart of this remarkable film. Through the wind-swept and war-ravaged streets of his neighborhood, Kheer Allah parlays his abundant charm into a variety of odd jobs that bring little money, but much satisfaction to his ever-smiling face. Boy of Baghdad is the heartbreaking, and very real, story of a remarkable boy forced to grow up much too quickly, in a dangerous world gone mad with politics and fanaticism; one that has sadly ignored its most vulnerable citizens, its children.