When was the last time you saw a stirring Arabic film that shook you to your core and reminded you about the futility of war? Through the lens of a 14-year-old Farha, you will be transported to 1940s Palestine going through turbulent times.
As Jordan’s official entry to this year’s Oscars makes its theatrical debut in UAE cinemas this weekend, we round up five things you need to know about this brilliant feature that has been the toast of film festivals.
1. ‘Farha’, directed by Jordanian filmmaker Darin J Sallam, is a survival thriller and searing conflict drama inspired by real-life incidents and is Jordan’s official Oscar entry to the 95th Academy Awards International Feature Film category for 2023. The writer and director, Sallam, was born in Kuwait and is currently living in Amman. According to the Toronto International Film Festival website, this female director has an MFA from the Red Sea Institute of Cinematic Arts. Her award-winning short films include ‘Still Alive’, ‘The Dark Outside’, and ‘The Parrot’. ‘Farha’ is her narrative debut.
2. ‘Farha’ is a women-led film about 14-year-old Farha who convinces her father to let her go to a school with her best friend, but just as she manages to extract a yes from him, her village comes under a bombing attack. Her father locks her in the family’s cellar, promising to return. A synopsis on the Red Sea Fest page reads: “Through a small hole in the wall, Farha watches the village she was excited to leave turned to rubble, bearing witness to the collapse of her country and the forced displacement of its people.”
3. ‘Farha’ has understandably been the toast of several film festivals in this region and was showcased at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah. According to Variety, Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea International Film Festival was selected to receive production and post-production funding from its Red Sea Fund. It also premiered in the Discovery strand of the Toronto Film Festival and also screened at festivals in Busan and Rome. It also won awards at Red Sea and Malmo Arab Film Festival. The film, set in 1948 Palestine, is a poignant portrait of death, destruction, and displacement. It’s also a stirring tale of how the human spirit can triumph against all odds and challenges. The theme of how a young woman rebels to get education instead of being forced into marriage is also dealt with delicately.
4. Sallam’s film is inspired by true events and is a struggle for survival. Actors Karam Taher, Ashraf Barhoum, Ali Suliman, Tala Gammoh, Sameera Asir, Majd Eid, Firas Taybeh, Samuel Kaczorowski, Sultan Alkhail and Batoul Ibrahim form the spine of the acting pool in this film.
Several reviews claims that first-time actress Taher has carried this poignant film about human conflict on her delicate shoulders with brilliance. Apparently, it’s also a crash course on sheer willpower from a young girl and her struggle to staying alive as destruction and tragedy unfurls around her. The movie also underlines the futility of war and how humans pay the biggest price for it.
5. The film also explores how war can make the civilians the biggest casualty and many reviews have also written that this film explores ‘the brutality of the soldiers’. Will Farha survive with no water or food in a tiny cellar with a small opening is the biggest question that will haunt you.
Don’t miss it!
‘Farha’ is out in UAE cinemas now.