• Golden Globe Awards

The Flower of Aleppo (Tunisia)

The Flower of Aleppo bravely tackles Tunisia's most complicated and painful problem since the start of the Arab spring. Tunisian youth outnumber every other nationality among the foreign fighters who have joined the "jihad" in the Syrian civil war. Director Ridha Behi chooses a subtle touch to draw his audience into the story while staying far away from the gore that the Syrian war has unleashed into our world. The film introduces us to the enduring harsh and oppressive living conditions facing a Tunisian woman named Salma, brilliantly played by Hend Sabri. We soon discover that the shattering of Salma's marriage into divorce weighs on her like the death of hope, until it is  resurrected with the Arab Spring. But Salma is a believer who never gave up her hope for a better tomorrow.  Forever giving and self-sacrificing, she struggles to hold on to what remains of her broken family in the only way she knows how, by burying herself in her work as a paramedic and escaping into other people's tragedy and pain. Meanwhile Salma's teenage son Mourad (Badis Behi) has become consumed by feelings of helplessness, confusion, and abandonment as his family disintegrates.  He so desperately needs to belong to someone or some thing.  So much so that when the spawns of the dark force known as ISIS ensnare him into their jihadi brotherhood, he joins as if into a  like horde of hungry beasts catching scent of a wounded prey. They only need to lure him in with promises of eternal friendship and the power to change his crumbling world. Now alone, Salma must summon all the strength and courage she has left in order to save her son from a fate worse than death.  She sets off on a hazardous journey into the very heart of darkness: the  ISIS stronghold in the war-ravaged inferno known as the Syrian city of Aleppo, where they've taken her beloved Mourad for indoctrination into their cult of psychopathic fundamentalism and training in their bloody methods of persuasion. At its heart, The Flower Of Aleppo celebrates motherhood and the incredible sacrifices they are willing to make for their children.  The symbolism that Behi choses in creating a strong association between motherhood and country makes this journey all the more worthwhile.  It is a must-see film which allows us to understand the complexity of the biggest tragedy of our time.