The Syrian Bride

It has been some time since I went and saw a good film, and this one was.It was shown here in Cape Town as part of the “Cape Town World Cinema Festival 2006”

Of course given the film’s title it was impossible for me to ignore it, and so I chose to see it with Ron.

The simple story revolves around the wedding of Mona, a Druze woman from the occupied Golan heights, who is to wed a relative she hardly knows, from across the border in Syria. The complication is that once she enters Syrian soil she can no longer return to her native Majdal Shams. Her family who were attending her wedding and seeing her off at the border post, were in essense bidding her a final farewell.

The characters spoke as they would have in real life, switching between Arabic, Hebrew and English. Here is a list of the most notable characters:

Amal, the bride’s sister, caught in an unhappy marriage, yet chipping away at her prison bars with slow but unfaltering resolve. She is the quintessential Arab woman, in her sacrifice and limitless patience;

Hammad, the brides father, caught in the middle of political and social contradictions: The law of the occupied territories, his loyalty to his identity, his loyalty to tradition and his paternal love. The last two influences play against each other in his poignant confrontation with his long absent son Hattem, who came after eight years to attend the wedding of his youngest sister along with his Russian wife and their son – they are the symbolic and actual break from tradition which led to the family rift

Last but not least is Marwan, and doesn’t every family have one? A slimy characters who knows how to charm women, and travels the world on ‘business’. He speaks in blooming yet, vaguely defined terms of his business, which leaves you wondering about its legality. He has enough money though, and the charm he bestows on women has little to do with his looks.

Marwan is the Macho type, his male friends and relatives laugh about his escapades with his foreign, and Jewish lady loves, yet his brother who married a foreigner, a Russian doctor no less, is sneered at, his wife hardly accepted in the conservative village.

The film I thought gave an honest portrait of life in the region. The deadly bureaucracy at the border control and the apathetic behaviour of the Syrians at the border control were typical as far as I am concerned. The useless officials simply shrug their shoulder and mouth their sweetly spoken but unwavering rejections: Come on Sunday, we can’t do anything now; Or: This can only be approved by the president. Meanwhile the poor applicant ( in this case the Syrian Bride ) is caught in the middle.

Very good movie – go see it if you haven’t

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