Screwdriver: PTSD – new ground for Arab cinema (Film Review)

Media Screening
Mercury Cinema / Palestinian International Film Festival
Drama (Palestine) – Original Title: Mafaks
Duration: 108 minutes


“Did you know that there are 6300 prisoners in political detention?  A fifth of Palestinians have been detained at least once.  … if a prisoner dies in detention, his body is returned only after his sentence is served”.  It’s moments like these in a scene that open people’s eyes and is often unventured territory for the bigger movie studios.

Screwdriver is a film about a man who pays the ultimate price for loyalty in an aggressive political climate between the Arabs and the Jewish.  Returning to a world after 15 years and attempting to find your place in a city presents many challenges under normal circumstances, but even more so in one that’s in chaos.

The film focuses on Ziad (Ziad Bakri), a Palestinian who was imprisoned in an Israeli jail as a teenager for murder after making the choice to keep silent in order to protect his friends.   There are continual undertones to mental health and post traumatic stress to explain the withdrawal depicted.  Some of the reactions one might interpret as nonsensical or foreign are not necessarily attributed to weakness in the script, it’s a mirky area that’s subjective to the viewer’s contextual knowledge and familiarity with its culture’s norms.

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On today at Mercury Cinemas, Adelaide – click for tickets

What’s to be commended is the storyline itself which highlights a topic rarely, if at all, dealt with in Mediterranean cinema, that in itself is groundbreaking.

The purpose of supporting cast and stories are questionable at times. There’s a strong balance in positives though, as powerful scenes between Ziad’s sister and mother are used to delve into the psyche of a broken man.

The title of the movie itself wont make sense until the end as it represents a choice that’s difficult to predict after we follow Ziad’s journey out of the black hole he spends the entire film climbing out of.

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