LFF Official Competition spotlight: Wajib

Get up to speed with the films playing in competition at this year’s BFI London Film Festival. Today’s pick: Annemarie Jacir’s Wajib.


Wajib (2017)

Wajib (2017)

What’s it about?

‘Wajib’ meaning ‘duty’, in this case the Palestinian tradition resting upon Shadi (Saleh Bakri) to join his father Abu Shadi (Bakri’s real-life dad Mohammad) in delivering the invites to his sister’s wedding. But Shadi and Abu haven’t spoken for years: Shadi’s cosmopolitan outlook baffles Abu; Abu’s behaviour towards his mother before their divorce enrages Shadi. Tradition demands they set out on a roadtrip. Tradition demands a reconciliation of sorts.

Who made it?

Born in Bethlehem, raised in Saudi Arabia and educated in New York, Annemarie Jacir was the first Palestinian woman to direct a feature film, 2008’s Salt of this Sea. Her second feature, When I Saw You, was set in a UN refugee camp in the aftermath of the 1967 Israeli invasion of the West Bank. Her fans include Hugh Grant, who called When I Saw You “astonishing” in a tweet and credited her with helping him discover Arab cinema.

What people are saying

“Shot through with a likable streak of earthy humour”
— Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter

“An intimate, well-played disquisition on what it means to be a Palestinian abroad versus a Palestinian at home”
— Jay Weissberg, Variety

Why we’re excited

“In this insightful and delightfully humorous urban road movie, which winds through the streets of Nazareth, a father and son observe tradition and hand-deliver wedding invitations. Unlike Abbas Kiarostami’s 10 or Jafar Panahi’s Taxi Tehran, where the dynamic changes as new characters get in and out of the car, here the shifts occur in the exchange between the old pragmatist and his estranged, cosmopolitan son as each encounter with the invitation recipients unlocks past family tensions or reveals the differences in their lived Palestinian experience. Annemarie Jacir’s third feature is a compelling ride. She has a great ear for dialogue and extracts terrific performances from real-life father and son Mohammad and Saleh Bakri, whose on-screen relationship is lively and highly relatable.”
— Clare Stewart, Festival Director

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