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LOCARNO 2018 Competition

Review: Yara

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- LOCARNO 2018: The Locarno Film Festival has hosted the world premiere of the new movie by Iraqi filmmaker Abbas Fahdel, which draws its inspiration from Buñuel and Bresson

Review: Yara
Michelle Wehbe and Elias Freifer in Yara

After helming the extraordinary documentary Homeland (Iraq Year Zero) – the winner of the Best Feature Film Award at the Visions du Réel Festival – Iraqi director Abbas Fahdel has presented his new effort, Yara [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, in competition at the Locarno Film Festival.

Inspired by The Young One by Luis Buñuel, as well as Au Hazard Balthazar and Mouchette by Robert Bresson, Fahdel wrote a screenplay about young love, which unfurls in the French countryside. However, for financial reasons, the romance between young Yara (Michelle Wehbe) and Elias (Elias Freifer) had to be relocated to a different continent. In the words of the director, this new setting changed the direction of the fictional tale, completely altering the Gallic flavour that Fahdel wanted to imbue his future film with. Nevertheless, despite the plot unfolding in a remote Lebanese village, Yara remains true to its role models, and for that reason it manages to strike up a secret dialogue with Buñuel and Bresson.

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In his fifth feature, Fahdel makes it clear that he eschews the theoretical separation between fiction and the documentary genre. On this occasion, the director of We Iraqis captures and conducts an in-depth study of the everyday life of inhabitants cut off by the towering mountains, the coexistence of different religions in one and the same country, and the emigration of young Lebanese people far away from the Middle East, for political or economic reasons. The analysis of the above issues overlaps with the fabrication of a summertime romance between a country girl and a stranger who stumbles across the village after getting lost while out hiking. 

The films of Abbas Fahdel are unique in the way they represent the area in which they unfold. His movies immortalise the sheer authenticity of the places he chooses, as well as the day-to-day life of the people who live there. In Yara, we once again witness the enshrinement of the space and the individuals toing and froing within it. Fahdel does not interfere with the natural flow of the location to suit his film; rather, his presence must go unnoticed, since his objective is to avoid disrupting the environment at all costs. His camera works as a tool that specialises in uncovering the hidden truth behind those faraway worlds, and the faces of their inhabitants. 

Yara was produced by Abbas Fahdel and Nour Ballouk.

(Translated from Spanish)

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