16 November 2012 9:11 AM, PST | Filmmaker Magazine - Blog | See recent Filmmaker Magazine news »


Nearly 10 years in the making, Habibi is the semi-autobiographical first feature from 2010 “25 New Face” Susan Youssef, a tale of forbidden love between two Palestinian students who find it impossible for their affection to overcome the rigid conventions of class in Palestinian life and Israel’s ironclad security regime. With Israelis and Palestinians again in actively violent conflict, the film couldn’t be more newsworthy, but Youssef’s low-budget aesthetic ingenuity (she couldn’t shoot in Gaza, but faked it admirably) and a remarkable performance from Maisa Abd Elhadi, as the young woman at the center of multiple circles of conflict (family vs. lover, tradition vs. modernity), should ultimately receive the bulk of attention.

As Layla, a university student whose academic career has been cut short after having her West Bank visa revoked by the Israeli authorities, Elhadi shows tremendous range and vulnerability as her character deals with her traditional but seemingly supportive family. »

- Brandon Harris

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