Friday, July 31, 2009

Jason goes to Jewfest North--Day 7

A.K.A. The San Francisco closing night. Something is weird when a film fest has it's "Closing Night" gala less than halfway through the festival, but that's how Jewfest rolls. Let's get to the film. Yeah, that's right, I only saw one film because A) I have a job and B) I've gotta save something for Berkeley and Palo Alto (and if I'm really crazy, San Rafael).

That one film, however, was excellent. THE WEDDING SONG is a story of two young women in Tunisia during the 6 months when it was Nazi-occupied. Myriam and Nour have been best friends their whole lives, and their religious differences mean nothing to them (in case you can't tell by the names, Myriam is Jewish, Nour is Muslim). Since they were little girls, they've talked about getting married. Now Nour is engaged to Khaled, a handsome but poor man. Myriam, while not engaged (and not happy with her prospect of Raoul--a wealthy but not too pleasant doctor) has the advantage of an education. That is until she's expelled and the Germans march into town. The Germans come not just with rifles and heavy boots, but with propaganda promising to liberate Muslim Tunisia of both the French and the Jews. Though most see through it (they've been friends with their Jewish neighbors for a long time) the Nazi propaganda starts infecting the community. And when Khaled takes a job helping the German occupiers, Myriam and Nour's friendship gets strained, to say the least. And lest you suspect that this movie links Muslims and Nazis, I should be quick to point out that Raoul conspires too (and is spat on as a traitor) and that Nour's father points out Koran verses praising Jews, Christians, and all worshippers of the one true god. It's a beautiful movie, with some remarkably frank but ambiguous sexuality (Myriam's wedding preparation waxing is a bit much to watch), and a thoughtful and ultimately hopeful look at kinship between Arab and Jewish culture.

And that's all for the Castro. But as I said, the festival rolls on at the Rhoda theater in Berkeley and the Cinearts Palo Alto, before heading back to San Francisco to play at the Jewish Cultural Center and to San Rafael at the Rafael Film Center.

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