For My Father (2008)


I showed this film to my confirmation class last night. We are on the topic of god, but this movie probably fits more squarely in the neighborhood of parent-child relationships and obligations. Tarek is Palestinian. He was a largely apolitical Arab who played soccer in Nazareth but lived in the West Bank. So in order to practice and play, he and his father needed to cross the armed border on a regular basis. As suicide bombings increased, this became increasingly difficult to do, and so paradoxically, in the Arab community, terrorists had a bigger and better hold on Palestinians than ever beofre. It was their way or the highway. And Tarek’s father became a persona non grata for not bowing to that way of thinking. The movie opens with Tarek en route to Tel Aviv to become a suicide bomber and redeem his father.

But there is a catch–his detonator misfires and he needs to replace it. On Friday afternoon. Katz, the owner of a small repair shop, does not have the exact replacement, and since it is almost Shabbat, it will be Sunday before he can get it. So Tarek is forced to spend time within the community and gets to know them–which makes it increasingly difficult for him to contemplate killing them. But the thing that he really misses that the Katz’ teach him is that parents do not recover from the death of their children. This act, which he does in the name of his father, will end his father’s life as he knows it. Tarek is caught in the middle of two worlds and doesn’t have time to find a good way out.

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