When I Saw You (Lamma Shoftak) (Empire Review)

WhenISawYouSquarePLOT Jordan, 1967. Frustrated with life in a refugee camp, 13-year-old Palestinian Tark (Asfa) runs away to join the fedayee freedom fighters.

Palestine’s official Academy Awards entry was this follow-up to ground-breaking writer-director Jacir’s Salt of this Sea. It’s the beguiling, quietly affecting tale of 13-year-old Tarek (Asfa), who tires of life in a Jordanian refugee camp during the 1967 Israeli-Arab war, and runs away to join the fedayee insurgents, to the frustration of his mother (Blal). To the innocent Tarek, who simply wants to return to his Palestinian homeland, drawn and re-drawn borders are as absurd as Alice’s “book without pictures”, and his worm’s eye view of a seemingly senseless conflict makes for a slight yet engaging film.

VERDICT Palestinian filmmaker Jacir’s second film is slight yet significant – and, because of the situation in Syria, timely – story about a boy whose courage inspires hope among the hopeless. ★★★

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