Arab Film Festival Preview

I’ve been able to preview two films screening at the upcoming Arab Film Festival. One of them is also playing at Mill Valley.

Captain Abu Raed, Mill Valley: Sequoia, Friday, October 10, 7:30 (rush only); Rafael, Sunday, October 12, 4:45. Arab Film Festival: Clay (San Francisco), Friday, October 17, 4:00; Camera 12 (San Jose), Saturday, October 18, 4:00. This Jordanian tale of a wise and kindly airport janitor who befriends the neighborhood children occasionally steers towards the mawkish and sentimental, but usually skirts the danger zone. Nadim Sawalha is charming and likeable as the widowed protagonist whom the local kids mistake for a pilot (hence the Captain in the title). He begins by telling them stories, but gradually becomes involved in their lives. Although his intentions are good, his interference can have unintended consequences.

The Yellow House, Clay (San Francisco), Friday, October 17, 6:30; ; Camera 12 (San Jose), Saturday, October 18, 6:30. This Algerian story looks at an important and universal tragedy: the death of a child. Unfortunately, it doesn’t shed much light on the experience, and succeeds merely in being sad and vaguely heartwarming. Heartwarming? Yes, because love and community heal even the worst of wounds. The first half concerns a simple farmer’s journey to the big city to identify and collect his son’s body. In the second half, the man tries, with the help of his daughters, to ease his wife out of her resulting depression. All in all, only moderately effective.