Magazine article Tikkun

Crossing Borders

Magazine article Tikkun

Crossing Borders

Article excerpt

[TELEVISION/FILM]

Crossing Borders

Eran Riklis' The Syrian Bride BY SHAI GINSBURG

IN HIS AWARD-WINNING FILM The Syrian Bride (Israel, 2004. Released by Koch Lorber Films in the United States in December 2005.), director Eran Riklis follows a Druze family through the Golan Heights town of Majdal Shams on the wedding day of its youngest daughter, Mona (Clara Khoury). The wedding, however, is anything but a simple celebration of union: the establishment of the new family means separation and disintegration. To join her betrothed, a soap opera actor in Damascus, Mona has to give up her Israeli "citizenship" and become Syrian. Once she crosses the frontier, she will be cut off forever from her family in the Golan.

The political border between Israel and Syria is not the only border that transects the lives of the film's characters and limits their choices. The family gathering in Majdal Shams occasioned by the wedding reveals Mona s family to be both eager and afraid to cross the borders that press against their lives, borders that at once define and confine them.

In an early scene, Mona's brother, Marwan (Ashraf Barhoum), arrives at Ben-Gurion Airport. Dressed in a light suit, carrying a briefcase, looking impatiently at his wristwatch, he appears to be an ordinary businessman. Yet when Marwan approaches passport control, he hands the female immigration officer an orange laissez-passer (pass) rather than a blue passport. The camera focuses on the first page of the passport: "undefined" is written under nationality. Upon seeing this, the immigration officer loses her smile. Trying to ease the process, Marwan begins to flirt with the official in literary Hebrew, but she has no patience for him and curtly asks for details about his trip. Marwan's answer-that he is a businessman-does not satisfy her. The immigration officer becomes further annoyed when he takes a business call on his cell phone. Unmoved by Marwan stating that he was already interrogated on his way out of Israel, she detains him for further questioning.

While the scene ostensibly depicts a trivial incident, it also highlights the "gentle oppression" the film's characters continually face, and how it consistently destabilizes their identities. Marwan confronts not only officially sanctioned discrimination (which is seemingly furtive and excusable), but also the subordination of his identity as a successful, young international businessman to the whims of a petty immigration official who similarly rejects his masculine charisma. Returning home after his travels, Marwan has to acknowledge that, despite his best efforts, his political status as "undefined" not only marks him as stateless in his country of origin and residence, but that it also undermines his personality as a friendly, playful human being.

In The Syrian Bride, oppression does not express itself solely in the Israeli authorities' treatment of their "undefined" Druze residents. The experience of discrimination similarly impacts Druze social relationships and family life, blurring the distinction between public and private life, consistently privileging the collective over the personal. On Mona's wedding day, her father Hammed (played by the veteran actor Makram Khoury), finds himself torn by two competing demands : the responsibilities of a father and those of a political activist. Although Hammed is on parole after several years in prison for pro-Syrian activities, the community expects him to break the terms of his parole and attend a pro-Syrian demonstration on a day when the importance of his family ought to take precedent. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.