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In Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in Golan Heights on the Israeli-Syrian border, the Druze bride Mona is engaged to get married with Tallel, a television comedian that works in the Revolution Studios in Damascus, Syria. They have never met each other because of the occupation of the area by Israel since 1967; when Mona moves to Syria, she will lose her undefined nationality and will never be allowed to return home. Mona's father Hammed is a political activist pro-Syria that is on probation by the Israeli government. His older son Hatten married a Russian woman eight years ago and was banished from Majdal Shams by the religious leaders and his father. His brother Marwan is a wolf trader that lives in Italy. His sister Amal has two teenager daughters and has the intention to join the university, but her marriage with Amin is in crisis. When the family gathers for Mona's wedding, an insane bureaucracy jeopardizes the ceremony. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Filming was done in two different Druze villages, one pro-Syrian and one pro-Israeli, depending on the political tilt of the scenes. Also, since Israeli authorities would not give permission to film at the actual border, a mock-up was built some distance away. See more »
Mona's father says he has raised her for 25 years. However, she states her birth date as November 30th 1976 and the movie is set on July 17th 2000. That would make her only 23 years old. See more »
A Wedding as a Humanistic Microcosm of Complicated Global Politics
"The Syrian Bride" uses the familiar comic genre of the colliding tensions in an extended family wedding to humanistically illuminate Middle East political, gender, generational, religious, modernization and economic tensions coming down to human relationships vs. bureaucracies.
Co-writers Suha Arraf (a Palestinian journalist) and Israeli director Eran Riklis pile almost too much on to this one Druze (Israeli Arab) family living in the occupied Golan Heights in order to make the personal political. The tensions, poignancy and symbolism of a wedding are heightened because when this bride leaves her home for her arranged marriage with a Syrian celebrity, she will not be able to return home.
Every complicated character has a complicated background, whether theirs or their parents' politics or their religiosity or their dress or their educational or romantic aspirations-- and is in a complicated relation to every other character and the authorities.
In addition to the return of prodigal sons from overseas, the larger community intrudes on the intra-family tensions, from robed tribal elders and the police who each bring warnings of proper behavior to a comical videographer. My dependency on English subtitles lessened some of the impact of hearing characters switch from Arabic to Hebrew to French to Russian to English to communicate, as part of the interactions are based on who can understand different languages and who can't. This complex in-gathering all symbolically happens the same day as a demonstration in support of the change over of power in Syria from the father the dictator to the son, while a flat tire leads to a crucial delay. The ubiquitous television, and government attention, however, is focused on the West Bank, making this border a forgotten zone as well as a no (wo)man's land.
What makes it all hang together amidst this human comedy is the central focus from the start to the finish on the almost silent bride, dressed in Western white, and her more verbal older sister, rebelliously in slacks, and both played by powerful actresses. Each has made choices in the past they regret and each chooses their future now, despite the efforts of all their male relatives, let alone global politics, to thwart them and make them helpless.
Even with the heavy-handed baggage of all the "Crash"-like coincidences, the film beautifully makes the point that politics isn't just ideology but affects how people get on with the basics of their lives.
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