This year at the Jerusalem Film Festival we saw three films: “House of Hummingbird”, “Young Ahmed” and “The Invisible Life of Eurydice Gusmao”. All three were special. “House of Hummingbird” was the best; a poignant coming-of-age film where not a lot happens (for its 2 hours and 20 minute running time) but it holds the attention and keeps the eyes moist throughout. For a lot of people, this will have been their favourite film in the festival.
“The Invisible Life…” is a very strong movie, at times hard to watch. Full of raw emotions, this film also runs for 2 hours + but it does occasionally feel a bit long. The discomfort that it creates is probably deliberate. I think the filmmakers want us to suspect that the story is not what it seems. There are hints to the film’s undercurrents in the name of Eurydice and the references to Greece. This caught my attention immediately because the views of Rio reminded me of the old French film “Orfeo Negro” (which is also of course set in Rio and based on the legend of Orpheus and Eurydice).
My working hypothesis is that the two sisters, who never find each other despite years of longing and searching, are actually two sides of the same person, which can never be reconciled. When one thinks of it this way, certain aspects of the film begin to fall into place. So although this is a very challenging movie, it somehow works because it keeps one thinking about it long afterwards.
“Young Ahmed” is not, in my opinion, a great movie. It’s well-made and interesting, but also annoying, perhaps subtly flawed. The main character, a teenager who falls under the spell of a radical imam, is surrounding by gentle, caring, mostly fairly enlightened people. There are no justifications in sight for his murderous zeal. This may represent a part of reality; it may even be what the film is trying to show. But in reality the state of our societies is less perfect than is shown in the film. There is racism, inequality, and all the rest. There are other films, like “Paradise Now”, that make a better presentation of the background, though this one is special in its depiction of a likable, but often inscrutable young man.