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Movie Review: Ajami

Alternate Title: Shared Guilt

Story: This film is an interesting collaboration between Israeli directors and writers, Scandar Copti (an Israeli Arab born and raised in Ajami) and Yaron Shani (a Jewish Israeli). Yes, an Arab and a Jew are collaborating to make art. That is a good thing.

Ajami is a neighborhood in Jaffa, a town near Tel Aviv. It is populated by Muslims, Christians and Jews with inherent conflict as an everyday occurrence. The film is divided into five chapters, that, like the movie Crash, will ultimately reveal all of the connections in the story. The film depicts the divisions in class, religion and culture clearly, but does it in an objective way. It, at times, seems like a documentary.

The film opens with a violent street occurrence that fuels the rest of the film. We meet the innocent, the weary, the victims and the villains. The endless cycle of tribal feuds, vendettas and retribution are a strain throughout the film. The chapters are overlapping and occasionally we see the same incident through another point of view.

The film is exhausting and demands your complete attention. The effort is worth the payoff at the end.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1cTPwWqtLA

Acting: All of the actors, except director Scandar Copti as Binj are not professionals. They actually live in the town of Ajami. Shahir Kabaha as Omar was my favorite character. Ibrahim Frege as Malek was terrific. Fouad Habash as Nasri, Youssef, Sahwani as Abu Elias, Ranin Karim as Hadir and Eran Naim as Israeli policeman, Dando were all great.

Trivia: Palestinian filmmaker Scandar Copti also plays its most empathetic character: Binj, a likeable, long-bearded 21st century guy. This Israeli film, Ajami was selected as one of the five nominees for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Ajami, which won a prize for Special Distinction in the Camera d’Or competition for first-time filmmakers at Cannes.

Predilection: I like to see all of the Oscar nominated films.

Critters: Chickens, pigeons and sheep

Sex Spectrum: None

Soundtrack: Duh - I cannot recall.

Opening Titles: An everyday street scene erupts in sudden violence. After which comes the title of the film.

Theater Audience: About half a dozen other people at the 12 o'clock showing. The next showing looked to be much more crowded.

Weather: Sunny

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: 0

Drift Factor: Attention must be paid throughout or you will be lost.

Predictability Level: Moderate

Tissue Usage: 0

Oscar Worthy: Got an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Film

Big Screen or Rental: Either will do.

Length: Two hours.