(In The Seat) TIFF 2021: OUR REVIEW OF ‘FARHA’
Not to toot my own horn, but it’s probably easier for me to empathize with the characters in Darrin J. Sallam’s Farha. I’ve had to flee my home country, although my situation is lighter than them. For the most part, the film itself allows for that empathy to shine because it shows its’ characters dreams. Those dreamer are the titular character (Karam Taher, a great debut performance) and her cousin Farida (Tala Gommoh). But before Farida can say anything more, a loud noise interrupts her.
That noise is coming from her village in Palestine. It is 1948, and those sounds mark the belligerent period between the Palestinians and the Israelis, returning from one of the places they call home. To keep her out of harm’s way, Farha’s father (Ashraf Barhom) tells her to stay in a pantry, promising that he’ll return for her. It incorporates enough story beats just to express both the visceral and claustrophobic nature of her situation. Things happen outside too, showing how everyone has their own burdens to carry in their new situation.
Farha spends most of her time in the active act of peeking, and that happens more while she’s hiding in the pantry. But that’s enough to show what she and her fellow Palestinians are enduring. The film also reincorporates Farha’s father back into the story in a shocking way, showing just how much Palestinians must do to stay alive. Through Farha, we see Israel’s atrocities, and films like this are calls to action.