The second film screening in the Cape Breton Island Film series is Ajami, a politically charged crime drama.
Set in the eponymous neighbourhood in the Israeli port city of Jaffa, The plot follows the lives of a cross-section of the city’s diverse inhabitants, each with their own hopes and struggles. There is the Palestinian refugee working illegally to pay for his mother’s life-saving surgery, a young Israeli with a vendetta against his family, a Jewish police detective searching for his missing brother, and an affluent Palestinian trying to work out a future with his Israeli girlfriend.
Ajami was co-directed by Yaron Shani, a Jewish Israeli; and Scandar Copti, a Palestinian who was born and raised in Ajami. It was filmed in the Muslim/Christian Arab neighbourhood with non-professional actors, elements that combine to give the film its startlingly authentic veneer. The intersecting stories bring the combative climate of the region to a more immediately personal level. Copti himself acts in one of the key roles, which is fitting for film artist who began his career with the short film Truth. It was screened at the 2003 Artists Against the Occupation and procured by the Israeli Channel 8.
Both Hebrew and Arab are spoken in the film, with the latter language being especially prominent. Ajami is the first predominantly Arab-language film that Israel submitted for the Academy Awards’ Best Foreign Language Film. A favourite to win, it was edged out by The Secret in their Eyes, last week’s Film Series screening. Aside from the Oscar nomination, Ajami collected a hefty share of international awards and nominations, including the Caméra d’Or Special Mention for the directors, Best Full Length Feature at the Jerusalem Film Festival, and the Sutherland Trophy at the London Film Festival.
The screening at Sydney’s Empire Theatres Studio 10 begins at 7:00, with regular admission priced at $9 and student admission at $6:00. The box office opens at 5:30pm. Seating is limited to one theatre, and admission is on a first-come, first-serve basis. For more information on the CB Film Series, visit cbfilms.ca