After screening at the TIFF (2018) and Sundance (2019) film festivals, short film Brotherhood by director Meryam Joobeur was forwarded last year by Canada to be in consideration for an Oscar nomination in the short film category. Joobeur is Tunisian-American, but went to school here in Montreal at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. Such good reaction to this film has occurred that she is now developing it as a feature film.
Family relationships are tough. Just because you are born to a particular family does not mean you will all think the same way. Often, it is the complete opposite. Within the close confines a family exists in these differences of opinion or way of thinking often leads to conflict. But still you are family…
Over the 25 minutes of Brotherhood I felt tense. The feeling that something bad is going to happen, though you are not sure what, is pervasive. An explosion is on the horizon.
Mohamed is the father of a Tunisian family which resides in a rural village. He takes care of a herd of goats during the day. One day, when coming home from the fields he is surprised to find the eldest of his three sons there. Surprised because Malik had left to fight in Syria on the side of ISIS. There was a conflict between father and son about him going to fight. To muddy the waters even further, is the fact that he comes back with a very young woman in hijab claiming she is his wife. More tension arises between father and son. Mother tries to play the role of peacekeeper in the family. The tension rises until there is finally an inevitable yet still surprising explosive climax.
The central message of the languidly paced film is communication. That no matter how mad you are at someone you have to keep talking or regretful things are bound to happen. And sometimes those things can rip a family apart.
Geo-politics also plays a part in the film. With the whole Muslim and ISIS aspect of the story. Hints to the radicalization of young Tunisian males. This leads to some conflict amidst families in that country. In a very somber and quiet way the nuances of this issue are examined here.
Another exceptional aspect of the film is the cinematography. The man responsible is Vincent Gonneville. Though the landscape here is not the “prettiest”, he does a great job matching how it is portrayed to the hardness of the film. Both the land and what is going on within this family is rough and raw.