Denis Villeneuve / CDN - F, 2010
French, Arab, Hebrew and English version / Czech and English subtitles, 130 min
After their mother’s death, twins Simon and Jeanne Marwan visit a notary for the reading of her will. Surprisingly, the notary, who had employed their mother Nawal for years, tells them that not only is their father still alive, but they also have a brother. Their task is to deliver their mother’s letters to them; only then will they be allowed to raise a tombstone and engrave their mother’s name on it. Simon is reluctant to search for his family roots in an unspecified Middle Eastern country, but his sister immediately flies there to find out that the fortunes of the Marwan family reflect the history of the whole region. The viewer is always a step ahead, as in flashbacks they also watch the story of Nawal, who, before she came to Canada, personally suffered the consequences of the political and religious conflicts that shake her native land. In the atmosphere of pervasive violence it was difficult to take sides; that is why Nawal decided to fight against those whose atrocities she witnessed, even though she had to allow her own religion to retreat into the background. The sophisticated film language and the superb cinematography (André Turpin, who also occasionally directs) make us forget that this is an adaptation of a theater play by Wajdi Mouawad, a Canadian of Lebanese origin, whose own film Littoral (2004) was also shown at the Karlovy Vary festival. Villeneuve’s film, shot mostly in Jordan, won a number of international awards, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.