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Director: Yaron Shani

Cast: Scandar Copti, Shahir Kabaha, Ibrahim Frege


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Palestinian Scandar Copti and Israeli Yaron Shani collaborated on this independent drama, which examines how the troubled relationship between their countries colors everyday life in the Middle East. Nasri (Fouad Habash) is a teenager whose family is in crisis: his uncle got into


Palestinian Scandar Copti and Israeli Yaron Shani collaborated on this independent drama, which examines how the troubled relationship between their countries colors everyday life in the Middle East. Nasri (Fouad Habash) is a teenager whose family is in crisis: his uncle got into an altercation with a local crime boss, and in reprisal, his cousin has been murdered. The shooters, it seems, originally intended to kill Nasri's younger brother, Omar (Shahir Kabaha), in lieu of the cousin. Abu Elias (Youssef Sahwani), a restaurateur and respected member of the community, steps in to negotiate. Omar agrees to make a cash payment to the gangsters to prevent further violence, but since he doesn't have the money, he raises it by dealing drugs. Abu has a daughter, Hadir (Ranin Karim), who works at his restaurant; she's fallen in love with Omar, but since she's Christian and he's Muslim, they can't acknowledge their feelings in public. Also working at the restaurant is Malek (Ibrahim Frege), a 16-year-old illegal immigrant who is looking for any kind of job to help pay for his mother's medical treatments. And elsewhere, Dando (Eran Naim) is a policeman drawn into the chaotic life of Binj (Scandar Copti), a suspected drug dealer who has been arrested for attacking a Jewish neighbor; Dando is also preoccupied with the fate of his brother, who has suddenly gone missing. Ajami won a special distinction award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Ajami -- jointly directed by Scandar Copti, an Israeli-Arab filmmaker, writer, and actor, and Yaron Shani, a Jewish-Israeli filmmaker -- is a movie that pulls no punches and takes no sides while delineating in a somber (but cinematically engrossing) manner the layers of conflict and bitterness that afflict Israeli and Palestinian societies. It does so through a series of interlocking tragedies involving Arab, Christian, and Jewish families, where all three groups and their extended social relations come up against each other, mostly in Jaffa, a tough Arab community near Tel Aviv, and in Tel Aviv itself. The performances by the mostly nonprofessional cast coupled with the fluid direction and the distinctly nonlinear narrative give the entire movie the feel of a documentary, though the plot elements do fit together a little too neatly (one actually wishes that this movie ran slightly longer with a less smoothly delineated ending). This verisimilitude is enhanced by the fact that the movie does not take sides in any of the levels of strife that are depicted. One gets a terrible sense of foreboding throughout the film, as the most innocent social interaction, driven by the best impulses on the part of the participants, can lead to serial deaths and revenge killings. Family relationships, among Arabs, Jews, and Christians, are depicted as stabilizing and destructive forces, and the violence, even in a cinematic world in which graphic and mass death are commonplace, is still depicted in startlingly graphic and shocking terms. Nonetheless, for all of the harshness of the movie's subject matter, the two directors have imbued their movie with a layer of gracefulness in the storytelling that makes one want to see this movie a second time, not only to take in the latter on a deeper level, but also to marvel at the manner in which the interlocking pieces of the violent puzzle do fit together so naturally (if a little too neatly); the sense of doom here, and the interlocking narrative chunks (broken down into chapters) reminds one of American film noir classics such as Stanley Kubrick's The Killing and, to a lesser degree, Abraham Polonsky's Force of Evil, but Copti (who also plays a small but key supporting role) and Shani, have carried the storytelling into nonlinear territory beyond anything seen in classic noir. Their achievement -- this is the first primarily Arab-language movie to get so high-profile a release in Israel and, even more importantly, outside of Israel -- has been honored with an Academy Award nomination and a ton of rave festival notices from around the world; and for once, the hype is justified. The entire cast, nonprofessional though most of them are, deserves accolades as well. Among the elements that Hollywood may notice will be the presence of the hauntingly beautiful Ranin Karim in the role of Hadir, but if she takes her acting seriously, she'll stay away from the offers that undoubtedly will be coming her way.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Kino Video
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Special Features

Ajami: the story of the actors; Deleted scenes; Theatrical trailer; Stills gallery

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Shahir Kabaha Omar
Ibrahim Frege Malek
Fouad Habash Nasri
Youssef Sahwani Abu Elias
Scandar Copti Binj
Ghassan Ashkar Nasri's Uncle
Eran Naim Dando
Nisrin Rihan Ilham
Ranin Karim Hadir
Sigal Harel Dando's sister

Technical Credits
Scandar Copti Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Yaron Shani Director,Editor,Screenwriter
Rabiah Buchari Score Composer
Mosh Danon Producer
Itai Elohav Sound/Sound Designer
Thanassis Karathanos Co-producer
Talia Kleinhendler Producer
Allan Niblo Executive Producer
Rupert Preston Executive Producer
James D. Richardson Executive Producer
Matthias Schwab Sound/Sound Designer
Yoav Sinai Production Designer
Kai Tebbel Sound/Sound Designer
Boaz Yakov Cinematographer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Ajami
1. Killed for Nothing [:12]
2. Cease Fire [9:08]
3. Sit Down [9:54]
4. Crossing the Border [9:55]
5. Binj [10:04]
6. The Deal [10:33]
7. Missing [8:25]
8. Found [12:56]
9. The Handsome Duck [6:06]
10. Gunpowder [10:28]
11. Break Up [5:24]
12. Weightless [7:15]


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