Friday, July 30, 2010


"I knew something bad was going to happen today" says Nasri, the young Muslim Arab-Israeli narrator of Ajami, which is the neighbourhood of Jaffa where the film is set. In fact it seems that something bad happens in Ajami every day and its just a matter of degree. The bad stuff isn't all what you expect - a number of Israeli or Palestinian films we've seen in recent years focus on how Israeli Government policy has made life difficult for Arabs, particularly in terms of restricting freedom of movement (and Ajami has its share of illegal labour coming in from the West Bank) but this film gives additional perspectives.

The first new perspective is on home-grown terrorism by Bedouin gangs who, mafia-style, demand protection money from local businesses and indulge in drive-by shootings and arson if they don't get what they want.

A second new perspective is the difficulties of inter-religious relationships - Nasri's older brother Omar has a Christian girlfriend (his boss's daughter)and one of his fellow employees has a Jewish girlfriend - which just goes to complicate what's already a complicated existence.

Thirdly we have the local drug trade and the local police force thrown in for extra excitement.

Ajami is a circular story which follows Omar for a few days and shows how all the factors I've described impinge on his life and the lives of those around him. The credits roll with Omar running for his life , and you can see his life isn't going to get any less complicated anytime soon.

Anne's rating 3/5
Ian's rating 4/5

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