Arab Film Festival: WESTERN ARABS
October 12 only
A warm, tough and brutally honest story about a family wherein the father came to Denmark from Palestine in 1966. A story about three generations. About anger and love. About experiences being passed on. About being split between two cultures. About brothers, fathers and the things we want to change in the raising of our own children. At the same time, it is a story individuals with a refugee background will recognize – and that is very much the point, as director Omar Shargawi reveals: “I think it will exemplify a lot of the families in the Western world who have refugee backgrounds. Families who suffered from war and chaos, and who escaped it by fleeing their home countries. That is the story I want to tell, rather than the story of my own family.” Furthermore, the film is about “going back” as Shargawi journeys to Palestine, the country his father fled, to find answers. Above all, Western Arabs is a universal story. Of the love of one’s parents. Of questions which the past brings with it. Of families and loss.
This is a story about a Western/Palestinian family across three generations. In many ways, we are a family divided. My father’s troubled mind, marked by fleeing his home as a child, as well as the various armed conflicts he participated in actively before coming to Denmark, marred our whole family. My childhood was characterised by anger and chaos. Now my brothers and I have become parents ourselves and try to raise our children in the best possible way. We try to spare them what we went through – and not always successfully so. Western Arabs is a film about being torn between two cultures and mindsets. And about immersing oneself in familial pain and getting to the core of the familial trauma.
My father is at the heart of the film. He brought the war to his family, and this trauma is the seed for my entire being, as well as the reason why I make films. Is trauma hereditary? Does it trickle down through the genes? I believe this to be a relevant story, one not just about the personal problems of myself and my family. I think it will exemplify a lot of the families in the Western world who have refugee backgrounds. Families who suffered from war and chaos, and who escaped it by fleeing their home countries. That is the story I want to tell, rather than the story of my own family.
The audience will get an insight into a Danish/Palestinian family in Denmark and its problems set in a European society. We will experience how a search for identity takes the oldest son (me) back to the Arab world – to the roots – in the hope of getting a better understanding of himself, and in the hope of finding peace with himself. He journeys back to that place which his father was forced to leave – wishing to find answers, insight and peace. A journey and a search which, in time, unfurls into an Arabian nightmare. He ends up completely rootless, with nowhere to turn. This story is also about an attempt to find the kind of harmony which most people search for. About not blaming religion, dual cultures, and family trauma, but taking full responsibility of your own life.
Director Omar Shargawi. 2019, 77 mins. In Danish, English, and Arabic.
Arab Film Festival: WESTERN ARABS: Upcoming Showtimes