Sunday, July 18, 2010

Wedding in Galilee (Urs al-jalil)

As the title indicates, Wedding in Galilee depicts a Palestinian wedding celebration—not in the biblical Palestine but in the modern, 1980s Israeli-occupied Palestine. Because of the Israeli-imposed curfews and restrictions, the village mokhtar petitions the governor for permission to hold the nuptials, which of necessity last well into the night. The governor agrees if he is allowed to attend as guest of honor; the mokhtar agrees as long as the governor stays until the very end of the festivities—that is, the consummation of the wedding by the bride and groom.

Despite the political and personal intrigues that occur throughout the day of the wedding, the food served to the guests is specially and wonderfully prepared, as at any nuptial feast. The film, however, depicts only the opening courses, though they are quite tempting for the viewer. First is mezza, a selection of appetizers. In the Palestinian territories, these small dishes would include mutabbal/babaghanoush (mashed and seasoned eggplant), hummus, kibbeh (burghul and spiced chopped meat, often lamb), fried cauliflower, yoghurt, shanklish (selection of cheeses, often from sheep’s milk), muhammara (hot pepper dip), pastirma (dried beef), tabbouleh, fattoush (garden salad), artichoke salad, pita bread, and fresh fruit in season. Accompanying the mezza would be arak, an aniseed-flavored alcoholic beverage. Next are various kabobs, probably lamb, grilled with vegetables. The final dish that viewers see is sfiha (“meat with dough”), similar to a small pizza but in this case made with ground meat (probably mutton) soaked in butter and then covered with pine nuts. It is a spectacular opening to what promises to be a splendid feast.

Released 1987
Written and directed by Michel Khleifi

Starring Mohamad Ali El Akili as the Mokhtar, Bushra Karaman as the Mother, Makram Khoury as the Governor, Yussuf Abu-Warda as Bacem, Anna Condo as the Bride, Nazih Akleh as the Groom, Sonia Amar as Soumaia, Eyad Anis as Hassan, Waël Barghouti as Ziad, Juliano Mer as the first officer, Ian Chemi as the second officer, Tali Dorat as the soldier, and Tawfik Khleifi as the Grandfather

Awards: 1987 Cannes Film Festival FIPRESCI Prize; 1988 Carthage Film Festival Tanit d’Or; 1988 Joseph Plateau Awards for Best Belgian Film, Best Benelux Film, and Best Belgian Cinematography; 1987 San Sebastián International Film Festival Golden Seashell

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