Film Review: ‘Fatwa’ explores extremism through a father’s eyes

A still from 'Fatwa.' (Image supplied) 
Updated 04 December 2018
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Film Review: ‘Fatwa’ explores extremism through a father’s eyes

CAIRO: Tunisian writer-director Mahmoud Ben Mahmoud’s latest creation, “Fatwa,” which won the Best Film award at the Carthage Film Festival and also the Saad Eldin Wahba Prize for Best Arab Film at the Cairo International Film Festival explores the process of radicalization in Tunisia, as well as its effect on the families involved, in a punchy piece of cinema that is sometimes marred by a winding script.  

The film offers a deeply disturbing look at the radicalization of Tunisian youth and sheds light on a system that offers little in the way of reformation — even for former extremists who have had a change of heart, but are thrown in jail with no hope for the future. Actor Ahmed Hafiane plays a father, Brahim Nadhour, who rushes back to Tunisia when he hears that his son has died in a motorcycle accident.Hafiane, who won the Best Actor prize at the Carthage Film Festival for his portrayal of the devastated father, plays the role with believable angst and tension.

The father soon discovers that his son had quit university to join an extremist group, which declared a fatwa on Nadhour’s secular and liberal ex-wife, Loubna, essayed by Ghalia Benali. Nadhour is not sure if his son, an experienced driver, really lost control of his motorcycle and crashed or if there is more to the accident than there seems. So, the grieving man sets outs on his relentless pursuit of the truth.

The movie unfolds in 2013 — a dark year for Tunisia, with several high-profile assassinations and terror attacks. The director expertly portrays the strange dichotomies inherent in Tunisia by showcasing such horrific events against the backdrop of a largely liberal society and Nadhour, having lived away from his homeland, sees all this with rare clarity.

The film also shines a harsh spotlight on the media’s role in perpetuating stereotypes about Tunisia, with its constant focus on all things terror-related, and one lesson audiences can take away from the film is that moderate, liberal Muslims need more attention — Nadhour is an example.

Layered and packed with power, the slightly convoluted script is where “Fatwa” hits a stumbling block that could leave audiences scrambling to follow the narrative. It is, however, a fascinating watch.


The Six: Oscars red carpet rewind

Emma Stone at the 2015 Academy Awards. (AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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The Six: Oscars red carpet rewind

DUBAI: We recount some of our favorite Arab-designed gowns to grace the Oscars’ red carpet.

Halle Berry

Berry made history in 2002 when she became the first black woman to win the Oscar for Best Actress. She wore a now iconic Elie Saab burgundy gown with a see-through corset and floral detailing for the occasion.

Jennifer Lopez

Lopez presented at the 2012 ceremony and turned heads in a beautiful white Zuhair Murad dress embellished with sequins and featuring a plunging neckline and figure-hugging cut.  

Lady Gaga

Always one to shine, Lady Gaga showed up to the 2015 show wearing a white Azzedine Alaia dress with red dishwashing gloves.

Emma Stone

Stone wore a beautiful green-hued Elie Saab gown to the 2015 ceremony. The embellishments, cut and fall of the fabric made the dress a whimsical and dreamy number to remember.

Jenna Dewan

At the 2014 awards show, Dewan wore a mermaid style Reem Acra gown that was tight fitting and embellished with feathers and sequins.

Chrissy Teigen

The always elegant Teigen wore a white Zuhair Murad dress with a high split to the 2017 ceremony show. The gown featured metallic detailing and a gold belt to cinch in the waist.