NHNew Horizons / Afaq Jadida Competition
This Narrow Place
This Narrow PlaceOriginal Title: This Narrow Place
Director: Sooney Kadouh
Lebanon, USA, Egypt | English
Detroit-based photographer and visual artist Sooney Kadouh makes an audacious film debut with this sharply observant study of the unlikely bond between a young Palestinian man and an American drifter who just needs a friend. This Narrow Place
is at once a heartwarming story of brotherhood, political thriller, offbeat indie comedy and powerful social commentary – all taking place against Kadouh’s visually stunning cityscapes.
The absorbing opening establishes parallels between the impoverished, blasted-out wastelands of both Gaza city and Detroit – and between the twin scourges of war and drug addiction. Hasan (Sammy Sheik) and his cohorts prepare rockets to be fired to avenge his younger brother, who was killed in an Israeli air raid. Meanwhile Chris (Jonathan Stanley) scores crystal meth in a dingy abandoned warehouse.
When Hasan smuggles himself into the United States to procure high-tech components for the rockets, he betrays orders from the shadowy head of the terrorist cell by contacting his Americanized uncle and sister. Now a fugitive, he ends up latching onto the manic but affectionate Chris. The outcast pair soon develop a friendship as genuine as it is funny. Hasan invites Chris into his family’s suburban home and teaches him about Islam; Chris tries to kick his habit during Ramadan and falls – disastrously – for Hasan’s sister.
Though wonderfully unpredictable, This Narrow Place
maintains an incisive edge. Hasan plays X-Box, prays in K-Mart and attends his first rave, but we never forget his shattered life back home; and Sooney’s bleak (though strangely beautiful) vision of American urban blight resonates loudly. The film’s heart, however, is in the dynamic performances from the leads. The respect and compassion Chris and Hasan show each other give this mad and memorable tale a satisfyingly human touch.