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Jihad and Family Love Showcased in New Film at Museum of the Moving Image

Nov. 16, 2018 Staff Report

The Museum of the Moving Image will be screening “Of Fathers and Sons,” an intimate portrait of two Middle Eastern boys and their jihadist papa, over the course of the next two weeks.

The director, Berlin-based Talal Derki, spent two years with a close-knit family in a sandy desert compound in war-torn Syria to get his footage. He slowly gained the trust of the father, an Al-Nusra fighter named “Abu Osama,” and was able to capture the family’s daily life.

There are scenes of Abu Osama’s work as a soldier, including car bomb attacks, but Derki focuses mainly on elder son Osama, who is 10 at the onset, and his younger brother Ayman. They clearly love, admire, and obey their father, who has six other children, but conflict is brewing. Osama is ready to follow the path of jihad, but Ayman wants to get an education.

In Arabic with English subtitles, the film presents some stark contradictions. Family tenderness vs. prejudicial violence. Modern academics vs. rote memorization of the Qu’ran and Shari’ah Law. Children’s games vs. war games.

As the film progresses, Osama and Ayman go to a training camp run by Al-Nusra, the Syrian arm of Al-Qaeda. They undergo strenuous physical and mental training, and are eventually captured leting go of their youth and turning into Jihadi fighters.

Tickets are $15, and the show times are Nov. 16, 7:30 pm; Nov. 17, 1 pm and 7 pm; Nov. 18, 3 pm and 7 pm; Nov. 21, 3 pm; Nov. 23, 5 pm; Nov. 24, 1 pm; Nov. 25, 1 pm; and Dec. 2, 7 pm.

The museum is located at 36-01 35th Ave.

Derki — whose previous documentary on Syrian rebels, “Return to Homs,” won the Grand Jury Prize for World Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival — will be on hand to discuss his work on Nov. 16 and the night screening on Nov. 17.

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