24/05/2008 11:06

Shahida: Brides of Allah in Exit Point Selection

Izrael, 2008, 76 min
Direction: Natalie Assouline
Awards: FIPRESCI prize, Berlin International Film Festival, 2008.
Selection: Exit Point

The debut movie by Israeli director Natalie Assouline called Shahida: Brides of Allah is going to be shown in the main competition of Exit Point Selection. The movie won the prestigious FIPRESCI prize in this year’s festival in Berlin.

Shahida: Brides of Allah is a chronicle about Israeli women who participated in terrorist attacks, so they serve time in prison. At the very beginning of the movie, a strong feminine side, the need to be beautiful, and to make themselves beautiful are contrasted with the circumstances that the three women find behind the wall of Sharon prison. The movie was shot two years ago, with the goal of discovering the main motivation behind these criminal acts.

Kahira is 30, and a mother of four. She serves three life sentences. She was born in Jenin, Palestine. She grew up in an orphanage, in Jerusalem. She got married in her fifteen. She drove a suicide bomber who made the attack in the centre of Jerusalem, where three people got killed, and eighty injured.

Waffa is 22. On her twentieth birthday, while she was preparing a cake, the gas-bottle exploded. She ended in a hospital with burns on her whole body. She says that her dream as a child was to become a suicide bomber. She came in this role to the hospital where she was treated. However, her intention was revealed. She ended in prison, sentenced to 12 years.

Samara is 25. She has been sentenced to 3 years. When she was young, she enrolled a medical school for nurses, but when she got married, her husband forbade her to finish her education. She was arrested when she started to learn how to make bombs. This young and deeply religious woman was pregnant during the shooting of the movie. She asked Natalie Assouline to be with her during the birth. The new-born boy lives with her mother in prison.

Natalie Assouline brings amazing stories of these three women, their ideas and beliefs, but she does not see them as a group with a common goal, but presents each of them individually, through her deepest and most intimate thoughts, emotional conflicts, frustrations, and actions, trying to discover the reasons in these unusual human psychologies.

Natalie Assouline is a talented young director. She was born in Israel, in 1972. Her movie called Final Goodbye, a short documentary about a failed love relationship, chosen for IDFA 2002, Silver Wolf Competition, won the first prize in film festival of documentary film, Docaviv, 2002. Shahida: Brides of Allah is her first feature documentary.