Screening at the 42nd New York Film Festival, Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, October 3, 9:30 pm, and October 4, 6 pm.
This bewitching coming-of-age drama is set in Beruit in 1983. Although the characters frequently have to retreat to underground shelters to avoid bombings in the city, they live for the most part outside the reach of war and its terrible grip. Lina (Marianne Feghali) is a lonely 12-year old living with her pregnant mother Therese (Carmen Lebbos) and her father Fouad (Aouni Kawass). His addiction to gambling has brought tension and anxiety into the household. Lena's only escape comes through her friendship with Siham (Rawia Elchab), the maid of her aunt Yvonne (Laudi Arbid-Nasr). When they are together, they laugh a lot. Yet the adults in this Christian Arab family look down on Siham. Yvonne is an authoritarian boss and lords it over the girl whenever she gets the chance.
Lina receives the first intimations that Siham is pulling away from her when they go on a little excursion to the beach with her boyfriend and a buddy. Lina, who has no experience dealing with men, feels like an outsider. When Siham eventually tells her that she is going to run away, Lina must make a decision whether to help her as she has asked.
Writer and director Danielle Arbid has done a masterful job conveying the little ties that are at the heart of female friendship. She has also acknowledges the dire effects of Lina's dysfunctional family on her moral and ethical development at a crucial stage of life. Finally, this Lebanese film reveals how the wars within our homes are some of the deadliest and most destructive we can experience.