VIFF 2018: What Walaa Wants


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      Another in a strong slate of films this year examining the Middle East, this NFB coproduction covers six years in the life of Palestinian teen Walaa.

      She’s a spark plug and a motor mouth—mom is missing for most of Walaa’s youth, incarcerated for attempting to aid a suicide bomber—so Walaa’s undisciplined fire isn’t exactly ideal when she begins training with the Palestinian Security Forces. Filmmaker Christy Garland’s camera gets remarkably close to this lively if damaged family, where domesticity, cheerful or otherwise, is always underlined by fear and a permanent sense of assault. It’s a high-resolution picture of occupation as destiny. Walaa prevails inside a world with severely curtailed choices, but as for brother Mohammed: “When I’m away from her it’s as if my soul has left me,” says the strikingly sensitive boy, at 11 years old, of his absent mother. What lies ahead is gutting to watch.