Mohammad Bakri, Saleh Bakri, Maria Zreik, Leila Bakri
A father must come together with his estranged son for a traditional task in this rousing family drama and road movie by renowned Palestinian poet, actress, writer and filmmaker Annemarie Jacir (director of 2008’s award-winning Salt of This Sea and 2012’s When I Saw You) exploring what it means to be a Palestinian abroad vs. a Palestinian at home.
After years abroad in Italy, architect Shadi (Saleh Bakri) returns to his native Nazareth. But this is no spectacular homecoming: he’s back somewhat begrudgingly to honour his “wajib” (or duty) to hand out invitations to his sister’s wedding with his father, Abu Shadi (played by Saleh Bakri’s real-life father, actor-director Mohammad Bakri), a long-time resident. Travelling around the city together in a car, often stuck in traffic, the simmering tensions between them build; with Shadi embodying the views of diasporic Palestinians who may remain politically engaged but grow naïve in their ideas about life back home; and his father, those of the realist negotiating the everyday compromises necessitated by life as an Arab in Nazareth.
In Salt of this Sea and When I Saw You, Jacir explored the displacement of Palestinians but here, she examines the experience of Palestinians living within Israel’s borders for the first time. With humour rooted in observational moments, including the Bakris’ uncanny ability to convey the simultaneous love and exasperation that is universally endemic to volatile family relationships, Wajib is a moving tale that dances along the easily blurred line between love and duty.