Magazine article Screen International

'3000 Nights': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'3000 Nights': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Mai Masri. Palestine/France/Jordan/Lebanon/United Arab Emirates/Qatar . 2015. 103 mins

The feature film debut from Palestinian documentarist Mai Masri, 3000 Nights explores the plight of the many Palestinians currently detained in Israeli prisons through the story of one inmate. Layal (Maisa Abd Elhadi) is a newly married schoolteacher who finds herself accused of terrorist activities after giving a liftto an injured boy. In prison, she discovers that she is pregnant; she is forced to give birth to and raise her son behind bars.

It's emotive material, handled with a blunt but largely unsensational approach. However, the prevalence of women in prison cliches, coupled with some rather schematic characterisation, prevent this from matching the emotional impact of the similarly themed Argentinian picture Lion's Den (Leonera). Outside its festival run (Toronto, Pusan and on to London), the picture's theatrical prospects are less certain, although sales to some territories are not out of the question.

The visceral opening sequence is highly effective. The setting is Nablus, in the occupied West Bank in 1980. Nervy handheld camera captures a terrified young woman, blindfolded and bundled into the back of a prison van. Layal is distraught and desperate to talk to her husband. The sneering prison guard, nicknamed The Crow, openly laughs at her request. This character is one of the film's less successful elements. She's too sadistically gleeful to be fully plausible, and her catchphrase of "I'll show you. …

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