Annemarie Jacir’s family drama, Wajib follows father, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri) and his estranged son, Shadi (Saleh Bakri), as they hand deliver wedding invitations in Nazareth. The coming together of jet setting son and his traditional father highlights the differences of what it is to be a Palestinian living in Israel and a Palestinian living abroad.
The leads, played by real-life father and son bring an authenticity to an already sincere narrative. Shadi has relocated to Italy, returning to Nazareth for his sister’s wedding. They struggle to see eye to eye throughout the film. Abu Shadi, of the older generation, accepts his life in Israel while Shadi fights against it. They constantly bicker with one another while their banged up volvo carries them from house to house.
Everything about Wajib, from Antoine Héberlé’s almost documentary-style cinematography to the family and friends they visit, gives the film an organic and unfeigned quality. Audiences are treated to a seemingly authentic and often comical peek into the houses of their family and friends. Shadi is inaugurated back into old generation Palestinian culture and thinking, while he pines for his life back in Italy. For his father, tradition is sewn through everything, down to the music they’re having at the wedding, something which Shadi finds hard to adjust to.
Jacir has succeeded in delivering a charming and original representation of Palestinian life in Israel, while also commenting on more serious socio-political issues. It digs much deeper than it suggests but is also globally relevant, coming home to visit your family is something internationally relatable, often awkward and regularly infuriating.
Even more so than Jacir’s previous films (When I Saw You (2012) and Salt of This Sea (2008) Wajib is stripped to its bones, with minimal aesthetic flourishes. Everything is stripped back, the colour, cinematography and even the script. A simple storyline set within a less than simple social climate.
Director: Annemarie Jacir
Writer: Annemarie Jacir
Stars: Mohammad Bakri, Saleh Bakri, Tarik Kopty, Monera Shehadeh,
Wajib is in cinemas fro Friday 14th of September.