"Let It Be Morning" is based on a 2006 novel by Palestinian writer Sayed Kashua.
"Let It Be Morning" is based on a 2006 novel by Palestinian writer Sayed Kashua.

S.F. Jewish Film Fest: In ‘Let It Be Morning,’ a Palestinian village on the verge of change

Eran Kolirin’s new film, “Let It Be Morning” (“Vayehi Boker”), this year’s closing night film at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, begins with a wedding in a small Arab village. We know little about the couple — and they seem to know little about each other — but their marriage seems doomed. First, because the celebratory doves, released at the ceremony as a symbol of love and peace, do not fly. Second, because the marriage is not consummated — the groom Aziz frets and sleeps downstairs with his brother Sami (Alex Bakri). And third, because the Israeli army has closed off all the roads, sealing the village.

It’s not just Aziz who seems unable to act effectively — the pervasive sense of the entire film is of unconsummated union. The community simply can’t get its act together – “In this village, we can’t get two people together for backgammon,” comments one local. The disunity is clear not only on a marital level but on political and civic levels as well.

Sami — the film’s central character — can’t make his marriage work. In a moment of brief solidarity and intimacy, his mother tells him that he’s following in proud family footsteps because she and his father have had a hollow marriage for decades.

Ehab Salami plays Sami’s childhood friend, the nebbish Abed. It’s a supporting role of award-winning verisimilitude, where every action from investment to serenade to martyrdom is a failed attempt to win back his wife. Abed’s splendid new minibus taxi is especially useless in the siege, embodying the absolute uselessness of group transport when no one wants to travel together and there’s nowhere to go.

Dan Friedman

Dan Friedman is the former executive editor of the Forward.


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