[JIFF ’12] Sharqiya (2012) by Bea Harper

Humans want it all – respect, love, money, connection, security, the essential and the superfluous – everything we do all comes back to the concept of obtaining something we desire, something that we can display proudly and call our own. In “Sharqiya”‘s case, young Kamel desires an identity, something that will be forever his and his alone. In order to attain it however, he must become more than what he is seen as.

Kamel is a Bedouin, and the concept of identity is a huge factor that plays a part in his culture- he wishes to attain recognition and freedom for not only himself but for his people. Working as a security guard (and under-appreciated at that) at a local bus station, he, as well as those who he cares about find out the Israeli government plan on tearing down their settlement. Despite the fact said government is bigger and stronger than he is as a man, Kamel decides to become a symbol, and devises to use a Baldrickism, “a cunning plan”. What is this plan? You will have to see for yourself, friend cinephile.

Despite the culture barrier, this film will strike a highly familiar chord in any film goer- this fascinating film is of sorts a parable of David and Goliath- defying odds and expectations. This tale has been told many times, just in different ways, and “Sharqiya” is absolutely no different. But what makes this movie work is how personal the film is when it comes to dealing with Kamel and his bid to take on those who threaten his cultures’ way of life. As bombastic as Kamel’s scheme was, I could not find it in myself to roll my eyes. No matter where you come from, no matter what faith you may possess, there is a time of our lives in which we feel we must prove ourselves in order to make a difference to the world. Some folks will most likely find this entire film ludicrous in terms of Kamels’ actions, but, and perhaps this is just me talking, but I still found this movie entertaining and educational with some seriously attractive cinematography.

Fledgling director Ami Livine has a familiarity with the Bedouin culture and its’ struggle to retain its’ cultural values, and attempts to show its’ struggle in a contemporary way that audiences, no matter what walk of life they are from, will understand. While this is Livines’ debut, the director does show distinct promise not only as a story-teller but a social commentator of sorts. Of course, not everybody will appreciate this movie for their own reasons, and that is understandable- like any film, “Sharqiya” will not win everybody over by the time its’ 85 minutes are up, and I can’t see this one winning Livine any awards but I for one enjoyed it and should Livine make another film, I for one will be curious.

Review written by Bea Harper



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