Foreign Policy Blogs

Ajami (2009)

The making of this film is more interesting than the film itself.
The makers solicited many non actors to star in this movie about the realities facing the people of Ajami, a neighborhood in Jaffa which is home to Jews, Muslims, and Christians.
The film is very much like a documentary in part because of the use of non actors and because there is no score. There are scenes of violence that look disturbingly real.
In the interviews with the people playing the roles, they say that the director would not prepare them for shoots, that their acting is all extemporaneous.
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However, the movie itself is jerky, confusing at times, and boring.
The beginning drags you in but soon loses its steam.
It is perhaps because it tries to cover so much ground that no one character is fully developed. And the lurching from chapter to chapter is disjointed.
What is shown is the power of emotion and desperation.
One young man, Omar, wants to sell drugs (without being in the drug-dealing world) to help pay for the mediation by an elder. The elder is solicited after the young man’s uncle shoots a member of a powerful clan.
Omar also begins a relationship with a Christian young woman who is the daughter of Omar’s benefactor.
Another young man, Malek, works illegally in Israel to make money for his mother’s life-saving operation.
And Dando, an Israeli police officer, seeks revenge after his soldier brother’s body is found in the West Bank.


There are more stories than those just mentioned, possibly one reason why it is hard to follow and leaves the audience wanting more.
What the film does show to some extent is the deep rooted hatred, fear, and mistrust among the many ethnic groups and religions in Israel and the occupied territories.
Ajami is available to rent.
Murphy can be reached at: [email protected]



Sean Patrick Murphy

Sean Patrick Murphy is a graduate of Bennington College, where he majored in politics and Latin American literature. He has worked for Current History magazine, Physicians for Human Rights, and Citizens for Global Solutions (formerly the World Federalist Association). He lives outside Philadelphia.

Areas of Focus:
Cinematography; Independent Films; Documentary;