By Nayera Yasser
The film industry was first created as a method of documenting and spreading stories that tackle versatile human interests. Hence, the Middle East’s most discussed topic, the Palestine-Israel conflict, has been a constant in the list of iconic films that have shaped the history of Arab cinema.
As the conflict progressed over the course of decades, the films failed to remain linked with reality. Instead, it remained trapped in the same loop of clichés and stable storylines.
“Eyes of a Thief” could be considered an artistic disclaimer against the endless flood of recycled story lines. The Palestinian film features a few regional stars including Khaled Aboul Naga and Souad Massi. It was actually filmed in the occupied territories.
Director Najwa Najjar narrates the true modern life of Palestinians during the so-called peaceful periods. The story starts with the infamous incident that took place in 2002 that caused brutal sieges and assassinations, including Israel building the West Bank Fence. The film’s main plot unfolds 10 years later in the West Bank.
Najjar aimed to highlight the brutality of war aside from the killings. Throughout the story, several underlined messages are set to convey an accurate description of neglected periods. Many scenes focus on the conditions Palestinian had to silently endure, including lack of all basic rights, such as electricity and water.
One of the protagonists embodies the psychological effect of the occupation. Adel, played by Suhail Haddad, represents those who fear resistance and prefer befriending the opposite party for temporary benefits. Adel’s role evolves steadily throughout the film and finally creates an essential part of the story’s climax.
Aboul Naga plays the lead role of Tarek, an engineer searching for his daughter after completing a 10-year sentence. In one of the main scenes, Tarek grieves at his wife’s grave hours after discovering that she has been long dead.
Aboul Naga outshone Massi’s performance but her enchanting voice did grace the film’s soundtracks that were soothing and heart-touching.
More importantly, Malak Ermileh showed true talent in her role as Malak, Tarek’s lost child. Her performance was highly sincere and phenomenal and she shared evident chemistry with Aboul Naga.
Malak’s role is important in the film’s main message, since many children are born and raised into unfair conditions, which deprive them from a natural childhood.
The movie was selected as the Arab entry for the 87th Academy Awards’ best foreign language film but was not nominated. “Eyes of a Thief” is currently screening at Zawya film theatre in Downtown Cairo.