To prepare you for 21st year of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, completely virtual-for-the-first time as you’ve never seen before, we bring you 21 previews spotlighting the breath of films offered for your home viewing. The films, which represent more than half of those in the AJFF lineup Feb. 17-28, include classics, intimate family dramas, upbeat comedy and historic documentaries. Sit back and relax as the AJFF brings us together through film.
It is said that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Or is it? Certainly not for Mustafa, the main character in the warm-hearted, but sharp-edged film “200 Meters.”
Beautifully played by actor Ali Suliman, Mustafa is the devoted Palestinian father of three children. His wife Salwa, also Palestinian, works and lives with their children on the Israeli side of the separation wall, while Mustafa lives with his mother in the Palestinian occupied territories. While his family are Israeli citizens, Mustafa refuses to obtain the permit that would allow him to live with them. Instead, they communicate across the long divide of 200 meters – or about 219 yards – by phone or flashing their lights at each other.
Mustafa’s rejection of Israeli rules means that he needs to obtain temporary work permits to take part-time construction work in Israel and to visit his family. The film clearly displays the obstacles the situation creates in his life as he navigates the checkpoints established by Israel to control Palestinians’ movement. Writer-director Ameen Nayfeh’s depiction of the everyday hurdles of Palestinian life rings realistic.
The story moves from the daily family life and the political highwire they traverse when Mustafa learns that his son, Majd, is in an Israeli hospital. At that point, the film takes a sharp and dangerous turn, introducing several new characters who share Mustafa’s anguished, tension-filled journey to reach his son.
This adventurous, and ultimately heart-warming, story reveals the humanity of a people who most often are presented in a totally negative light.
“200 Meters,” which premiered at the 77th Venice International Film Festival last September and won the Audience Award, is Jordan’s official submission for the Best International Feature Film category of the 93rd Academy Awards in 2021.