Adonis Diaries

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10-year-old Muna in Yemen shows how to keep safe from Covid-19

COVID-19 in Yemen: A day in the life of Muna

In the Al Sha’ab camp in Aden, 10-year-old Muna shows the world how she’s trying to stay safe from the coronavirus.

UNICEF May 5, 2020

Ten-year-old Muna Zayed is one of around 1.7 million internally displaced children in Yemen, the world’s largest humanitarian emergency. The situation in Yemen is dire, and the need to reduce the additional strain of coronavirus spreading is urgent.

Muna lives with her family in Al Sha’ab camp in Aden, in the south of the country, after ongoing fighting forced them to flee their home in Taiz. Muna’s school is closed as part of efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But she still wants to show the world what her day looks like.

Muna’s diary: How Muna and her family are staying safe from COVID-19

Link to video on it’s hosted site.

UNICEF/UNI324054/

Muna walks with a school friend to the camp’s main water tank to collect clean water for washing and cooking.

UNICEF/UNI324043

On the way, they stop at the main bathrooms in the camp, so Muna can wash her face. She says residents try to keep the bathrooms clean to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus.

UNICEF/UNI324047

Muna says she tries to collect water when there are less people around, so it’s less likely that COVID-19 will spread.

 UNICEF/UNI324053

“I hope corona never comes to us.”

Muna’s cousin brings some vegetables to the family’s home, so she cleans them carefully before cutting them up for cooking to help her mother prepare lunch.

UNICEF/UNI324046

“I’m happy that I’m with my family.”

Muna says she knows it’s important that people wash their hands regularly to help prevent COVID-19 from spreading. Residents in the camp don’t always have soap, but they still try to wash their hands thoroughly.

 

UNICEF has been scaling up preparedness and response programmes across Yemen, including providing clean water to communities in need, and distributing basic hygiene kits – containing soap, towels, buckets and jerry cans – to empower and enable internally displaced families across the country to protect themselves.

Across Yemen, UNICEF and partners have also reached more than half a million people with information on physical distancing through house-to-house visits, and is aiming to reach thousands of health workers with sensitization sessions on COVID-19.

Pretty late Mama, good evening.

A long time immigrant, bewildered how to erect a State in his country

A couple of poems that I wrote in Arabic in January 1991 and that I didn’t recall writing them in a letter to my parents.

Although I cannot claim that I was in love with my parents, I still recognized their dedication and care as they could master with their little education. I cannot recall, my brother, sister and I had any conversation with our parents. We were Not allowed to join visitors and share in the discussions.

Before 6 years of age, we were all shipped to a boarding school in Lebanon to save us from the deadly African diseases. They were strangers to us as they visited us one summer out of two.

Actually, I was the one who stayed with them till they passed away at very old ages, through mightily hard extended and debilitating illnesses.

Mother, late pretty mama, good evening.

I get furious when people just recall you as a chic woman

A great eye for fashion and designer fingers.

Mother, the cornerstone and guiding rod to father

In all his risky adventures, and later hopeless states of mind.

I know better,

You were afraid for me of people, of this harsh world

A world of no mercy.

Where to go and flee?

Mother, you freed me twice as I decided to immigrate.

Thank you.

I had far more hard days in foreign lands than relaxing ones.

I was one day away from joining the homeless, and feeling the cramps of hunger.

How I survived is the miracle.

The miracle of hundreds of people who felt pity on my conditions.

Free me once again mother.

I am Not complaining: I decided to liberate myself by my own volition

An immigrant who fled the civil war,

And bewildered how to erect a State in his country.

Twenty years out of his home country

In a welcoming country that refuses to be my second home.

A country that decided to liberate Kuwait and restitute it to its tribal Sheikhs.

Children born and Not recognized as citizens

So that oil money remain for its tribal Sheikhs and their descendent,

Their women and their colonial Masters.

Father, the good hearted husband

Who could never refuse to lend, even when he didn’t have any in his older years.

At the instigations of mother when they were in a well-to -do condition relative to the extended families.

But it is father who is remembered as the good Samaritan.

A father who helped generations of physicians, engineers, teachers

Who appreciated him for as long as their feathers grew into powerful wings.

Yes, father passed away, destitute and barely visited.

The same with mother who cried for being left isolated and ignored.

You will Not be ignored anymore.

Rest in peace.

Note: Julie https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/julia/

 

 

 

Crisis leadership? In the time of Covid-19?

Three reasons why Jacinda Ardern’s coronavirus response (New Zealand PM) has been a masterclass in crisis leadership

Direction, care and meaning-making.

Senior Lecturer, Executive Development, Massey University

Imagine, if you can, what it’s like to make decisions on which the lives of tens of thousands of other people depend.

If you get things wrong, or delay deciding, they die.

Your decisions affect the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people, resulting in huge economic disruption, mass layoffs and business closures.

Imagine you must act quickly, without having complete certainty your decisions will achieve what you hope.

Now imagine that turning your decisions into effective action depends on winning the support of millions of people.

Jacinda Ardern/Facebook

Yes, you do have enforcement capacity at your disposal. But success or failure hinges on getting most people to choose to follow your leadership – even though it demands sudden, unsettling, unprecedented changes to their daily lives.

This is the harsh reality political leaders around the world have faced in responding to COVID-19.

As someone who researches and teaches leadership – and has also worked in senior public sector roles under both National and Labour-led governments – I’d argue New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is giving most Western politicians a masterclass in crisis leadership.

Three communication skills every leader needs

When it comes to assessing New Zealand’s public health response, we should all be listening to epidemiologists like Professor Michael Baker.

On Friday, Baker said New Zealand had the “most decisive and strongest lockdown in the world at the moment” – and that New Zealand is “a huge standout as the only Western country that’s got an elimination goal” for COVID-19.

But how can we assess Ardern’s leadership in making such difficult decisions?

A good place to start is with American professors Jacqueline and Milton Mayfield’s research into effective leadership communication.

The Mayfields’ research-based model highlights “direction-giving”, “meaning-making” and “empathy” as the three keys leaders must address to motivate followers to give their best.

Being a public motivator is essential for leaders – but it’s often done poorly. The Mayfields’ research shows direction-giving is typically over-used, while the other two elements are under-used.

Ardern’s response to COVID-19 uses all three approaches.

In directing New Zealanders to “stay home to save lives”, she simultaneously offers meaning and purpose to what we are being asked to do.

In freely acknowledging the challenges we face in staying home – from disrupted family and work lives, to people unable to attend loved ones’ funerals – she shows empathy about what is being asked of us.

The March 23 press conference announcement of New Zealand’s lockdown is a clear example of Ardern’s skillful approach, comprising a carefully crafted speech, followed by extensive time for media questions.

In contrast, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson pre-recorded his March 24 lockdown announcement, offering no chance for questions from the media, while framing the situation as an “instruction” from government, coupled with a strong emphasis on enforcement measures.

Where Ardern blended direction, care and meaning-making, Johnson largely sought “compliance”.


Enabling people to cope with change

Ardern’s approach also strongly reflects what well-known Harvard leadership scholar Professor Ronald Heifetz has long argued is vital – but also rare and difficult to accomplish – when leading people through change.

Ardern has used daily televised briefings and regular Facebook live sessions to clearly frame the key questions and issues requiring attention.

Extracts from Jacinda Ardern’s evening Facebook Live from home on March 25, hours before New Zealand went into level 4 lockdown.

Also consistent with Heifetz’s teachings, she has regulated distress by developing a transparent framework for decision-making – the government’s alert level framework – allowing people to make sense of what is happening and why.

Importantly, that four-level alert framework was released and explained early, two days before a full lockdown was announced, in contrast with the prevarication and sometimes confusing messages from leaders in countries such as Australia and the UK.

Jacinda Ardern’s March 21 explanation of New Zealand’s four-level alert system.

Persuading many to act for the collective good

The work of another leadership scholar, the UK’s Professor Keith Grint, also sheds light on Ardern’s leadership approach during this crisis.

For Grint, leadership involves persuading the collective to take responsibility for collective problems. Much of the prime minister’s public commentary has been dedicated to exactly that – and it’s been overwhelmingly effective, at least so far, with a recent poll showing 80% support for the government’s response to COVID-19.

Grint also argues that when dealing with “wicked problems” – which are complex, contentious and cannot be easily resolved – leaders must ask difficult questions that disrupt established ways of thinking and acting.

It’s clear this has happened in New Zealand, as shown in the suite of initiatives the government has taken to respond to the pandemic, including its decision to move to a national lockdown relatively fast compared to many – though not all – countries.


Of course, not everything has been perfect in New Zealand’s or Ardern’s COVID-19 response. Ongoing, independent scrutiny of the government’s response is essential.

But as my own research has argued, expecting perfection of leaders, especially in such difficult circumstances, is a fool’s errand. It’s never possible.

Nor should we allow the “perfect” to become the enemy of the “good” when speed and enormous complexity are such significant features of the decision-making context.

Whether you’re comparing Ardern’s performance against other Western leaders, or assessing her efforts using researchers’ measures of leadership excellence, as a New Zealander I think there is much to be grateful for in how she is leading us through this crisis.

Stay in touch with The Conversation’s coverage from New Zealand experts by signing up to our weekly newsletter – delivered to you each Wednesday.

Read more: Where are we at with developing a vaccine for coronavirus?

Read more: As NZ goes into lockdown, authorities have new powers to make sure people obey the rules

 

Trip to Nashville.  April 1, 2020

Note: I opened a special category on my blog “Travel/Excursion” to collect all my trips and adventure stories.

I learned that a young couple of my acquaintances at the university were leaving to Kentucky and would drive through Tennessee.

I had just graduated with PhD in industrial/Ergonomics engineering in 199,1 after 6 long grueling years of toil. I worked 4 part-time jobs within the university confine to pay tuition and make ends meet, in addition of a half-time student assistant in my last 2 years.

You know, I obey to regulations, even if most foreign students work outside and have much better pay.

I had an open invitation from my ex-girlfriend in Nashville. She once got pissed off of me and transferred her job from Oklahoma City to Nashville, along with her two kids. (No, the matter was Not of any cheating stories: just a nervous laugh in a funny situation. Told that encounter in my post on Rose)

I asked the couple to give me ride in their tiny VW Beetle. They dropped me in Nashville where Rose lived.

(I wrote about this trip in “An inch taller than her country women“, reminiscing about the women I got this lucky of befriending. A hard working and resilient divorced woman) .

I guess that I spent about three weeks in Nashville but I never had the opportunity to tour “Graceland“, even though Shannon, the daughter of Rose, worked there for pocket money.

I guess that I could not afford the $40 entrance fees.

I tried applying for a position in that period of acute recession during Bush Senior Presidency that lasted until he lost the renewal of his tenure to Clinton. Yes, I also endured this deep unemployment period in San Francisco.

I applied to Nissan plant at Smyrna? and other positions.

There is not much to see in Nashville and I was not in the touring mood since Rose was working hard to make ends meet and I was feverishly applying for jobs.

I recall that I paid a visit to this “famous” record company of Hall of Fames of country singers and gold records . I didn’t care much, but just for curiosity reason.

I even experimented with selling books for a multilevel scheme company.

Rose reluctantly let me use her brand new Japanese car. I don’t drive other people cars, but I was dead broke. The company allocated me a neighborhood to sell the “book of the week” that was to be promoted…

The deal is that you don’t miss a house or a business office in the area allocated to you and you tour the streets clockwise to close the loop.

You leave the customers the book of the week for three days for their perusal. You come back the next week to retrieve the book or sell it to the client.

We had to be at the warehouse at six in the morning, followed by a military style pep talk and then we are trained to memorize definite phrases to eliminate hesitations and how to close deals.

At six in the evening we had to learn the accounting procedures for our business and stay way after eight or even nine.

Supposedly, a few of our role models who were poor in math learned to add and subtract, to harangue, and to get rich.

I lost money in the final analysis because a few books could not be accounted for.

I think this “company” made money by charging the high priced of “displaced” or non retrieved books , when it didn’t cost it a fraction. Maybe they got these books for free just to spread them around.

I once got a traffic ticket for over speeding in Rose’s new Nissan car; it is impossible to know whether you are speeding in these smooth driving cars.  I never paid the traffic tickets.

The woman graduate student, Sara, picked me up on her way back to Oklahoma in her tiny beige VW.

I don’t recall that I spoke a word on that return trip. Sara didn’t attempt to talk either. I guess we both were Not in the mood of sharing our disappointment or frustration.

Sara reluctantly let me sleep overnight when we arrived in Norman: I had no place to sleep since I had vacated my rented apartment

Two days later, Fakhry (a close Lebanese friend whose parents worked in Africa and was married to an American) lent me $100 for the Greyhound bus fare to San Francisco.

I was to attend the American Human Factors annual convention.

It was an excuse to let go of Norman town, a “boring hole” and start afresh, though I had no acquaintances in San Francisco.

I figured that sleeping two nights at the hotel with my advisor might open up new opportunities for survival.

Barbara made me walk on air

Note: Re-edit of “I Should Have Told Barbara (Jan. 2003)”

The day before my trip to Los Angeles in the summer of 1976, Sue, the girlfriend of a dear friend of mine studying at the same university, asked me to get in touch with her sister Barbara.

I were in the USA since June of 1975, my first trip ever outside my country.

The International Office at the University arranged a group trip for one week to California, for some of us new international students. We were to meet families in this exchange program.

I did not care meeting any American families for the time being, but I needed to get away in my first summer and wanted to see California.

The International student advisor knew about my origin. The program matched me with an old Jewish couple in Pasadena without warning me. I do consider Israel as our existential enemy and anyone who support Israel financially could never be a friend of mine. I did assume this family supported Israel.

The family had a fourteen-year old boy, or maybe he was their grandchild.

I was Not that curious: They looked pretty old to me. The husband was very helpful and friendly, but his wife gave me the impression that she agreed reluctantly to join the program.

A student from Nigeria was assigned to the same family. The house was large with a garden.  The interior looked old, traditional, gloomy, dark and smelling like it was never aerated and reeking of old people.

The same evening they asked the Nigerian student a few questions, but I was spared this torture, may be because I didn’t look that forthcoming. Or that they figured out I’ll be very sensitive to whatever pertinent questions they might ask.

It is a crime to surprise youth among old people. Youth has to be forewarned, to be prepared on what to expect from elder people. Youth has to be reminded that elderly can be wonderful and much active, That older people are great people, still very much living humans And who could be funny, charming and could be very functional…

We had a general gathering the first day with all the host families and various students. Then we were given the daily program of places to see and I barely paid attention to the program.

We were to see Disneyland the next day for free. I declined the invitation: Disneyland is for kids.

I remember that I had another chance to visit Disney for free, two years later. And I again declined. Disney was still just for kids.

Many years later, I discovered that everybody liked to see Disney, including kids. I never saw Disney in California, but the smaller version in Orlando with my nephews. My little nephews and nieces, five in total then, loved Disney.

Not as much as I did enjoy it that day.

My host drove me for an hour to the meeting place with Barbara, living in West Hollywood. He drove two hours to pick me up, three hours later.

Youth: ruthless, mindless, uncompromising, and unappreciative.

I still can visualize Barbra after thirty years, coming toward me, in white shirt, long brown skirt reaching below her knees, almost touching her long brown cowboy boots.

Her boots must have added a couple inches to her stature. She is shorter than me in an afterthought. But the vision is always of a tall and grand lady.

She appeared taller than me but my pride increased correspondingly, by her side.

Her then long blonde-brown hair was raised over her beautiful head. She looked glamour incarnate.

She hugged me and made me feel I was a dear friend, of long time, whom she missed.

She spoke with effusion and earnestness.

She wanted to know all that is to know, instantly,

About how her sister is doing, what about her sister’s boyfriend who was my friend, About their relationship, about Oklahoma her home State…

About everything, but nothing about me, or how I feel or felt that moment.

I was glad that I was not the object of the conversation then, but not so glad now.

We walked together so close, and I was walking on air.

I felt that I must look the most envied guy, a most glamorous guy in the whole wide world.

I asked permission from my host family to move at Barbara’s, for the duration of the program, and they agreed.

Next morning was warm and sunny and I walked to Beverly Hills to see her in the fashion store she managed. I did walk on stars’ hands and the walk was Not that long.

She received me like a VIP and was happy at my surprised visit. And I toured Downtown Beverly Hills: Pretty empty of clients, boring, clean, expensive for no reasons… I cannot recall if I waited for Barbara to finish work or that I returned by myself.

I wanted to be with Barbara every second of my trip in California.

A couple of years later, I accepted to attend a conference in Los Angeles hoping to see Barbara again.

It was an important political conference but my heart was not in it.

My friends drove me through Beverly Hills, where the rich and glamorous live, but I was not impressed.

Finally, giving up, they gave me a lift from Anaheim to West Hollywood.

I called up Barbara and I invited myself to stay overnight at her apartment.

She had many friends. She was attached at the moment to a fashionable young man, working in fashion and with fashion, but they had problems.

She appeared depressed and disappointed and not in the mood for me. Her TV was on 24 hours.

I slept and woke up with the TV on.

Six years later, during my second extended trip to the USA, I had another opportunity to visit with Baraba

Sue was leaving to Little Rock with her boyfriend had she told me that Barbara was married and living in Oklahoma City and she gave me her phone number.

I met Barbara on Thanksgiving and she did not look the Barbara of my vision.

Her skin looked darker, her face emaciated, down to earth, resigned and decked in simple blue jeans and an old black sweater.

She was married to a full-blooded American Indian, herself a half-blooded lady.

A soft spoken husband, a polite artist who toured the USA exhibiting his paintings.

She stayed at home designing jewellery and managing her man’s business.

I accepted her invitation for a Thanksgiving lunch.

I went down to Oklahoma City for an important and specific purpose of mine: I was determined to tell Barbara my secret.

I went down with my steady girlfriend at the time. I had to because I had no cars: actually, I spent most of my University education on a bicycle.

Barbara’s eyes had an ironic shine looking at my oriental (Filipina) short friend.

She asked my friend all kinds of questions about our relationship,

How we met and what are our plans.

Barbara said to me: “You know, someone needs news about your friend”.

She meant that her sister needed to know the whereabouts of her ex-husband.

I had lost track of the whereabouts of my friend too and could not be of much help.

Barbara was entitled to know the truth, that the first time she walked with me, she made me feel that I was the most glamorous guy in town.

But I did not tell Barbara the truth.

I don’t recall that I talked during my two hours stay at Thanksgiving.

Maybe it did not feel right at that moment, but I should have persevered on my initial decision:

This truth is hers no matter what.

She could be eighty, but age does not erase the feeling, that to my young eyes, she was the most glamorous woman I set my eyes on.

She could be a hundred, but age does not change the fact,

That Barbara made me once walk on air.

Maybe if I had told Barbara, I wouldn’t have written this story.

And how Julia, the undaunted, passed away at 92?

I decided to relate this story, with the intention of Not pressing “publish” for a long time.

It was urgent for me to recollect the fresh facts and impressions of the demise of mother Julie.

A week before she fell in the bathroom, Julie was Not feeling well. I could Not tell what was ailing her and she could Not express how she felt.

I knew she was Not well because she slept a lot and wouldn’t mind that I bring her the food tray at bed.

Julie used to feel dizzy more than usual.

When she fell, laying on the ground and waiting for someone to discover her, I used to help her stand on her feeble legs  and walk her to bed. I cover her up and wait until she recovers from whatever ailing her. An hour later, she is up and giving me worries.

That evening, Julie fell in the bathroom when I was Not home. I discovered her laying on the floor and moaning. Moaning means she is in pain. I called on my nephew to help me out carry her up to her bed.

I figured out she was removing a top, got dizzy and fell on the lavatory.

Not knowing if anything was broken, I called the Red Cross to transport Julie to the emergency.

This time around, I decided to take her to Bhaness hospital and called the bone surgeon to be the main physician in this case.

Four hours later, the x-rays showed 3 broken chest bones. And mother was hospitalized and we returned home after midnight.

The next day, the bone physician told us that mother has also some kidney failure, but this can wait after she recovers and her bone heal within 3 months.

In the meantime, mother is to take Panadol for her pain and suffering. And we were dispatched home.

For 3 days and nights, Julie was in constant pain at home.

She barely slept a wink and I could Not sleep a wink.

She was unable to swallow any soup or drink

One night, she made room in the bed next her and wanted me to lie next to her and hug her. This was totally unusual for this prude and tough girl.

I wanted to hug her and then I felt that my side of the bed was wet. And I decided to let her sleep alone and in pains. Always alone.

Julia would never accept to wear any kind padding (couche) and would rather suffer moving to the restroom.

But she had to swallow her pride and let me clean her up and cook for her.

Three awful nights and days, Julie was in acute pain and I trying to believe that it was a case of just broken bones that need time to heal.

I felt totally helpless and suffering for her. This home treatment crap was no longer a valid option.

We managed to find an “excuse” that it is the dialyse physician who should be in charge.

My brother-in-law and I shouldered her and Julie descended the stairs patiently. This undaunted woman was so weak that she leaned her head on my shoulder for a few breaths.

We finally drove her to Beit-Chabab emergency because her condition was no longer sufferable or acceptable to be at home.

The physician looked at the blood test and the second item demonstrated that Julie had a urine infection. The physician was beside himself and said: “She should have been treated at the hospital for this infection”.

That was a total chock for me and I wondered if the bone surgeon had no communication with the blood test physician or if any serious communication was done before releasing the patient. No antibiotics were prescribed after Julie was released from Bhaness,

To the insurance request of what Julie is suffering from, the physician said: “She is in coma already

Julie was hospitalized for 3 days and then moved to ICU section. Her urine output was very deficient and less than minimal: kidney not functioning anymore. For 7 days, Julie was Not allowed to eat or drink out of the risk of deficiency in swallowing.

The dialise physician decided to intervene with a dialysis session. Julia suffered in these procedure sessions as she never before. But all her organs were already failing.

At 11:30 am before she passed away, we connected Julie with her daughter and preferred niece in London. She moved her hand to kiss the picture. She even moved her hand downward to remove the padding that she couldn’t stand. And I said: this is a sign that she is improving.

At 1:30, we received the call that she died.

Julie decided it was no longer worth it to live totally dependent.

She was supposed to be able  to walk to the restroom and to the refrigerator to find something to eat when she wakes up several time at night.

Even when she was functional, barely anyone would visit with her, and occasionally she would cry silently telling me that no visitors are showing up.

Actually, in my 20 years since I returned from USA, no one paid me a visit. I who lived with her and took care of her. Even when she had a hip surgery and could Not move. barely anyone visited to extend any help.

My sister was oversea, and only Hanane was available and we would have lunch in mother’s room, on a portable light table that I bought for these occasions.

All those cousins whom Julia did her best to help, accommodate, shelter and feed in order for them to finish their schooling and who did well.

Anyone who has a point of view of what happens after death, he must include all the living creatures, even the tiniest of insects, lest he is practicing the lousiest of racism of the charlatans.

Death is a continuation of “Life cycle” on earth, as it is everywhere else.

Note: You may read who was Julie https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/julia/

 

Heaven Without People (Ghada’a El Eid)

Directed by Lucien Bourjeily

Posted on March 2018

Everyone loves a family gathering – in theory.

What could be better than seeing all your loved ones in one place at the same time?

Josephine (Sarkis) is the matriarch of a Lebanese Orthodox Christian family. Getting her family together is like pulling teeth: they haven’t been in the same room for a meal for more than two years.

It’s Easter Sunday and she has prepared a feast for her children and their spouses (and two grandchildren, one too young to do anything but sleep).

The children are in various stages of functionality.

Serge (Samra) seems to be the most level-headed but he has been dating his girlfriend Rita (Shaer) for three years without any sign of commitment; she is concerned that she might be pregnant which Serge who is very much against taking care of a baby.

Leila (Semaan) is a strident political firebrand who is very critical about the government for which her father (Boutros) was once employed with.

Christine (Karam) is closest to Josephine but is having big problems with her teenage son Sami (Habib).

Elias (Hage) is married to Noha (Gebara) and is more than a little bit of a bully; the family treats him with contempt most of the time.

Josephine’s maid (Helou) tries to be in the background but she is treated with love by the family.

The conversation turns from politics to religion and tension soon begins to make things a little bit frayed at the table. Josephine then discovers that a large sum of money is missing, money that she and her husband – who despite his apparent vigor is actually in a fragile state of health – desperately need.

There’s no way to know who took it other than that it is someone at the dining table.

By the end of the meal all of the skeletons will come out of the closet and the things bubbling under the surface will grow into a full-on boil

I liked this movie very much. I believe the great Gene Siskel would have too.  Movies that are a slice of life, particularly in other cultures, were essentially his favorite kind of films.

I love learning about different cultures – the foods they eat, the traditions they hold to, the rituals that a meal brings with it I also enjoy the dynamics of a family (which generally speaking are pretty much the same everywhere) particularly when there is discord.

Few families love each other universally all the time. There are always squabbles.

The performances are pretty natural. I don’t know whether the performers are professional actors or amateurs. Either way the dynamics in this family are very believable and none of the performers seem to be wooden or stiff: they’re all comfortable in front of the camera which can be a big deal in movies like this one.

I had real problems with the camera movement. Cinematographer Ahmad Al Trabolsi utilizes a hand-held camera and circles the table constantly. While it does add an air of tension to the story it also serves to be distracting and downright annoying.

Some fixed camera angles would have benefitted the film and relieved the constant camera movement.

I will say that both cinematographer and director did a good job despite the confined and somewhat claustrophobic set (nearly all the movie takes place inside the small apartment of Josephine and her husband).

Sometimes directors and cinematographers will make a film look more like a stage play in these kinds of conditions but that didn’t happen here.

The film moves at  slow but steady pace, the tension increasing as the meal progresses and eventually the situation of the missing money is revealed to the rest of the family.

The climax is handled very nicely and left me wondering how the family would survive what happened.

A great film will leave you concerned for the welfare of its characters and that’s precisely what happened here.

The build-up may be a little too long for attention-challenged viewers but those with the patience to stick with the film will be richly rewarded – the final few scenes are truly amazing.

Bourjeily is certainly someone to keep an eye on. If you’re heading down to Miami to catch this festival, this is one you should put on your list.

REASONS TO GO: It’s a slow build to a fast boil. A lovely slice of life with a little bit of rot below the surface.
REASONS TO STAY: The handheld camera becomes quite annoying after awhile.
FAMILY VALUES: There is profanity, some violence and adult themes.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: Bourjeily, who got his MFA in film from Loyola Marymount University (my alma mater), is making his feature film debut.
CRITICAL MASS: As of 3/10/18: Rotten Tomatoes: No score yet. Metacritic: No score yet.
COMPARISON SHOPPING: August: Osage County
FINAL RATING: 7.5/10
NEXT:
 Call Me By Your Name


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adonis49

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