Palestinian director Rashid Mashawari follows his widely acclaimed dark comedy Laila’s Birthday with this compelling and ironic drama about two brothers on the West Bank who, rendered homeless by an Israeli air strike, hustle odd jobs to raise enough money to emigrate to Canada.
Contemporary World Cinema
After their apartment building in the West Bank is destroyed by an Israeli air strike, brothers Samy (Salah Hannoun) and Milad (Mahmoud Abou Jazi) — nicknamed "Stereo" — become homeless, living in a tent set up in a nearby yard. Stereo, a wedding singer who once held promise, lost his wife in the shelling; Samy, an electrician, lost the ability to hear and speak. The two men can no longer endure the hopelessness of their situation, and decide to immigrate to Canada, where they imagine they can pursue their dreams. The application procedure being expensive, they relocate to Ramallah, where their sister lives and where there is the opportunity for them to earn enough money to emigrate.
Director Rashid Masharawi's follow-up to his widely successful Laila's Birthday faithfully captures the hardships as well as the paradoxes of everyday life in the West Bank. Masharawi adeptly balances both biting realism and a sordid note of absurdity with his sober political critique. (In spite of his hearing loss, Samy is able to hustle jobs as a sound engineer, while he and Stereo rent out sound equipment from a beat-up, second-hand ambulance they cruise around in.)
A compelling drama tinged with irony,
Palestine Stereo is a searing meditation on
the significance of homeland and homemaking.
Is home the place where one is
born and feels bonds of belonging, or is it
where one pursues the opportunity to make
a life with dignity?