(September 27, 2014 – Toronto, Ontario) The 2014 edition of the Toronto Palestine Film Festival opens today with a screening of the feature Palestine Stereo. This is the follow up film from Palestinian director Rashid Mashawari who was widely acclaimed for his dark comedy Laila’s Birthday. With the news lately seemingly dominated with headlines from the Middle East, the timing seems perfect for this compelling and ironic drama about two brothers on the West Bank who, rendered homeless by an Israeli air strike, hustle odd jobs to raise enough money to emigrate to Canada
After their apartment building in the West Bank is destroyed by an Israeli air strike, brothers Samy (played by Salah Hannoun) and Milad (played by Mahmoud Abou Jazi) — nicknamed “Stereo” — become homeless. They find shelter by living in a tent set up in a nearby yard.
Stereo had been a wedding singer who once held promise. He lost his wife in the shelling. Brother Samy is an electrician who has lost the ability to hear and speak thanks to the impact of the blast. Coming to realize that their future here is bleak, the two men decide their future promises nothing but hopelessness and so they decide to immigrate to Canada, where they imagine and hope they can pursue their dreams.
But nothing is as easy as it seems, and if you have read the news stories lately about the difficulties a Canadian woman married to a Syrian is having trying to return to Canada — she has been told the wait could be as long as two years — the story that unfolds in this fictional film rings true. Samy and “Stereo” discover the application procedure is expensive, far more than they can afford given their circumstances. And so they decide to move to Ramallah, where their sister lives and where there is the opportunity for them to eventually earn enough money to emigrate.
When this film screened at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, programmer Rasha Salto wrote that “Palestine Stereo is a searing meditation on the significance of homeland and homemaking. Is home the place where one is born and feels bonds of belonging, or is it where one pursues the opportunity to make a life with dignity?
The 2014 Toronto Palestine Film Festival runs until October 3. Click here for a link to the TPFF website and to other festivals in October 2014.