THE WAR WITHIN
starring Ayad Akhtar, Firdous Bamji, Nandana Sen, Sarita Choudhury
screenplay by Ayad Akhtar, Joseph Castelo, Tom Glynn
directed by Joseph Castelo
starring Kais Nashef, Ali Suliman, Lubna Azabal, Amer Hlehel
screenplay by Hany Abu-Assad, Bero Beyer, Pierre Hodgson
directed by Hany Abu-Assad
by Walter Chaw Two films, one by New Jersey filmmaker Joseph Castelo, the other by Palestinian lenser Hany Abu-Assad, begin to make inroads into what is perhaps the most inscrutable phenomenon of the so-called War on Terror: suicide bombing. They're important films, I think, mostly because suicide bombers, like the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of WWII, make it easier to generalize and dehumanize/demonize the enemy as faceless zealots. Every manned car-bomb, every explosives-strapped martyr, creates ideological schisms on either side--more so and deeper, I'd offer, than conventional missiles or rifle shells do, because here we're striking at the very heart of the way we perceive life and the afterlife: holiness and sin, valour and cowardice. If there's ever to be some sort of olive branch in this millennia-old conflict, it has to start with an agreement not only to recognize the humanity beneath the atrocities committed by both sides in the name of defending home and hearth, but also to admit that centuries-old texts about the supernatural are piss-poor signposts pointing the light of right reason.