(Movies and Books)
Compassion grows when we imagine ourselves in someone else's shoes. Here are some suggestions which describe the Middle East from a young person's view.
Look for the DVDs!
Le Cerf -Volant (2003, Lebanon-France) Director: Randa Cahal Sabag
Lamia is a lovely 15 year old living near a barbed wire fence which separates Lebanon and Israel. She must make a decision about marriage as she passes into womanhood.
A new young border guard takes up his post along the border trying not to sleep all day from boredom.
A dreamlike romance develops between these two star-crossed lovers.
Title in other countries: The Kite, International; O Χαρταετός, Greece; Leija, Finland, TV title)
Offiside (2006, Iran) Director: Jafar Panahi
Girls like soccer, too! It's June 2005. The Iran National Soccer team is playing an important match with Bahrain.
Unfortunately, the Islamic Republic has been established as the government and girls aren't allowed into the stadium!
Some girls won't take ‘No' for an answer and dressed as young men slip into the stadium to view the game only to find themselves arrested and guarded by a group of young soldiers.
Conversation, flirting, escapes and adventures follow.
Paradise Now (2005, Belgium) Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Said and Kahled have been friends since childhood. Feeling imprisoned and disrespected in their native country, Palestine they are convinced to take an extreme action in the next 36 hours. At the border they lose track of each other, the mission is postponed.
Now there is time to reflect on their lives and their future and the difference between right and wrong.
This is a very good story of young men trying to find their way, making their own decisions in a confusing world.
Monsieur Ibrahim (2003, France) Director: Francois Dupeyron
Ladies, Omar Sharif stars in this movie, need I say more?
Gentlemen, a young boy is coming of age without any guidance until the neighborhood grocer gives him the paternal support he needs.
Momo, the Jewish boy and Monsieur Ibrahim, the4 Turkish grocer find that the Koran brings them together, forming a special friendship. Lovely movie, funny and sad.
Tiltles in other countries: Herra Ibrahim Ja Koraanin kukaset, Finland; El Senor Irahim y las flores del Coran, Spain; O Kurios Impraim kai ta louloudia tou Koraviou, Greece
The Thief and the Cobbler (1993, USA) Director: Richard Williams
This is a marvelous animated adventure. The cobbler Tack and Princess Yumyum help save ancient Baghdad from the terrible One Eye, an invader from the north! The thief (voice of Jonathan Winters) helps, too, although he is busy slipping things under his robe!
Vincent Price is the voice for the devious and creepy vizier. (Also with voices of Jennifer Beals, Matthew Broderick, Toni Collette, and Eric Bogosian.)
The animation is unique and a must-see. It took almost thirty years to create the M.C. Escher like backgrounds for the hand painted animation by Richard Williams.
Kleo, Natalie and I first saw this in a movie theater in Connecticut. It was titled "The First Arabian Knight." We were the only three people in the theater watching the movie. I hope it wasn't the word ‘Arabian' in the title that kept people away.
It was wonderful on the full screen. We purchased the video at a grocery store in Iowa with the new name, ‘The Thief and the Cobbler.' We still watch it!
(This was the only film for which Natalie wanted to buy the dolls! Unfortunately none were available.)
Books to read!
One Country A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
By Ali Abunimah
(2006) Henry Holt Publishing, pages 193 plus notes. ISBN-13:978-0-08050-8034-6
This book offers an easy to read, straight forward, reasonable discussion with historical background and examples from South Africa.
By Marjane Satrapi
(Both a graphic novel and a movie)
Ms. Satrapi shares her life in Iran starting when she is ten years old. She's raised to be a strong female and speak out. By the time she is confident to do so: it's not acceptable in society outside her home. An autobiographical story told in a unique format.