Films: Man Without a Cell Phone

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Man Without a Cell Phone  {Ish lelo selolari}

Man Without a Cell Phone
Ish lelo selolari

France, 2011, 78 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Palestine, Israel
Genre/Subject: Comedy
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: Arabic English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Sameh Zoabi
Editor: Simon Jacquet
Cinematographer: Hichame Alaouie
Principal Cast: Razi Shawahdeh, Basem Loulou, Louay Noufi, Maysa Abd Elhadi

For Jawdat, an aimless young dreamer, life is comprised of hanging out with friends, screwing up dates with girls of various religious stripes, and worrying on occasion about the upcoming college entrance exam. But this young Israeli Palestinian is in for some shocks. When Jawdat's father, Salem, an olive farmer who's strung as tight as a piano wire, decides that an Israeli cellphone tower is poisoning their village with radiation, he draws the townspeople—and his reluctant son—into a fight.

As the bewildered Jawdat, Razi Shawahdeh strikes a careful balance between postadolescent self-absorption and dawning awareness, proving the perfect foil for Basem Loulou's ferociously committed Salem. Through their interactions and struggles, writer-director Sameh Zoabi addresses complicated issues of second-class citizenship and social grievances among Israel's segregated Palestinian minority—as well as the confusions of young adulthood—with an appealing mixture of humor and keen political awareness. Zoabi shot Man Without a Cell Phone in his own hometown of Iksal, a Palestinian village near Nazareth, and some of the lessons he learned on set were as poignant as those faced by his characters. For one thing, when Zoabi's crew constructed a cardboard cellphone tower in the village to use as a prop, the people of Iksal thought it was the real thing and destroyed it. It took a public announcement at Friday prayers in the local mosque to clear the air. “I feel the urge to tell stories about my own community and share these narratives with the world,” the director says. This debut feature is a promising start.
—BILL GALLO

In cooperation with Friends of Sabeel--Colorado, Spring International Language Center

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